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Thread: Bush Officials May Have Covered Up Rice-Tenet Meeting From 9/11 Commission

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    Bush Officials May Have Covered Up Rice-Tenet Meeting From 9/11 Commission

    Bush Officials May Have Covered Up Rice-Tenet Meeting From 9/11 Commission

    http://thinkprogress.org/2006/09/30/911-meeting/

    Peter Rundlet, Counsel To The 9/11 Commission
    9/30/2006

    Most of the world has now seen the infamous picture of President Bush tending to his ranch on August 6, 2001, the day he received the ultra-classified Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) that included a report entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US.” And most Americans have also heard of the so-called “Phoenix Memo” that an FBI agent in Phoenix sent to FBI headquarters on July 10, 2001, which advised of the “possibility of a coordinated effort” by bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation schools.

    As a Counsel to the 9/11 Commission, I became very familiar with both the PDB and the Phoenix Memo, as well as the tragic consequences of the failure to detect and stop the plot. A mixture of shock, anger, and sadness overcame me when I read about revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book about a special surprise visit that George Tenet and his counterterrorism chief Cofer Black made to Condi Rice, also on July 10, 2001:

    They went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and “sounded the loudest warning” to the White House of a likely attack on the U.S. by Bin Laden.

    Woodward writes that Rice was polite, but, “They felt the brushoff.”

    If true, it is shocking that the administration failed to heed such an overwhelming alert from the two officials in the best position to know. Many, many questions need to be asked and answered about this revelation — questions that the 9/11 Commission would have asked, had the Commission been told about this significant meeting. Suspiciously, the Commissioners and the staff investigating the administration’s actions prior to 9/11 were never informed of the meeting. As Commissioner Jamie Gorelick pointed out, “We didn’t know about the meeting itself. I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it.”

    The Commission interviewed Condoleezza Rice privately and during public testimony; it interviewed George Tenet three times privately and during public testimony; and Cofer Black was also interviewed privately and publicly. All of them were obligated to tell the truth. Apparently, none of them described this meeting, the purpose of which clearly was central to the Commission’s investigation. Moreover, document requests to both the White House and to the CIA should have revealed the fact that this meeting took place. Now, more than two years after the release of the Commission’s report, we learn of this meeting from Bob Woodward.

    Was it covered up? It is hard to come to a different conclusion. If one could suspend disbelief to accept that all three officials forgot about the meeting when they were interviewed, then one possibility is that the memory of one of them was later jogged by notes or documents that describe the meeting. If such documents exist, the 9/11 Commission should have seen them. According to Woodward’s book, Cofer Black exonerates them all this way: “Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork about the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about.” The notion that both the 9/11 Commission and the Congressional Joint Inquiry that investigated the intelligence prior to 9/11 did not want to know about such essential information is simply absurd. At a minimum, the withholding of information about this meeting is an outrage. Very possibly, someone committed a crime. And worst of all, they failed to stop the plot.

    – Peter Rundlet
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...093000282.html

    Sunday, October 1, 2006; Page A17

    On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.

    Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.

    For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called "findings" that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance -- Black called it an "out of cycle" session, beyond Tenet's regular weekly meeting with Rice -- would get her attention.

    Tenet had been losing sleep over the recent intelligence he'd seen. There was no conclusive, smoking-gun intelligence, but there was such a huge volume of data that an intelligence officer's instinct strongly suggested that something was coming. He and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action.

    He did not know when, where or how, but Tenet felt there was too much noise in the intelligence systems. Two weeks earlier, he had told Richard A. Clarke, the National Security Council's counterterrorism director: "It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one."

    But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the National Security Agency intercepts and other intelligence. Could all this be a grand deception? Rumsfeld had asked. Perhaps it was a plan to measure U.S. reactions and defenses.

    Tenet had the NSA review all the intercepts, and the agency concluded they were of genuine al-Qaeda communications. On June 30, a top-secret senior executive intelligence brief contained an article headlined "Bin Laden Threats Are Real."

    Tenet hoped his abrupt request for an immediate meeting would shake Rice. He and Black, a veteran covert operator, had two main points when they met with her. First, al-Qaeda was going to attack American interests, possibly in the United States itself. Black emphasized that this amounted to a strategic warning, meaning the problem was so serious that it required an overall plan and strategy. Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be addressed immediately. They needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden.

    The United States had human and technical sources, and all the intelligence was consistent, the two men told Rice. Black acknowledged that some of it was uncertain "voodoo" but said it was often this voodoo that was the best indicator.

    Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies.

    As they all knew, a coherent plan for covert action against bin Laden was in the pipeline, but it would take some time. In recent closed-door meetings the entire National Security Council apparatus had been considering action against bin Laden, including using a new secret weapon: the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that could fire Hellfire missiles to kill him or his lieutenants. It looked like a possible solution, but there was a raging debate between the CIA and the Pentagon about who would pay for it and who would have authority to shoot.

    Besides, Rice seemed focused on other administration priorities, especially the ballistic missile defense system that Bush had campaigned on. She was in a different place.

    Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long. "Adults should not have a system like this," he said later.

    The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, but it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the starkest warning they had given the White House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn't want to know about.

    Philip D. Zelikow, the aggressive executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and a University of Virginia professor who had co-authored a book with Rice on Germany, knew something about the July 10 meeting, but it was not clear to him what immediate action really would have meant. In 2005 Rice hired Zelikow as a top aide at the State Department.

    Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, but she just didn't get it in time, Tenet thought. He felt that he had done his job and had been very direct about the threat, but that Rice had not moved quickly. He felt she was not organized and did not push people, as he tried to do at the CIA.

    Black later said, "The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head."

    Editor's Note: How much effort the Bush administration made in going after Osama bin Laden before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, became an issue last week after former president Bill Clinton accused President Bush's "neocons" and other Republicans of ignoring bin Laden until the attacks. Rice responded in an interview that "what we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    9/11 Panel Members Weren’t Told of Meeting

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/wa...gewanted=print

    By PHILIP SHENON

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 — Members of the Sept. 11 commission said today that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent Al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action.

    Details of the previously undisclosed meeting on July 10, 2001, two months before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were first reported last week in a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward.

    The final report from the Sept. 11 commission made no mention of the meeting nor did it suggest there had been such an encounter between Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice, now secretary of state.

    Since release of the book, “State of Denial,” the White House and Ms. Rice have disputed major elements of Mr. Woodward’s account, with Ms. Rice insisting through spokesmen that there had been no such exchange in a private meeting with Mr. Tenet and that he had expressed none of the frustration attributed to him in Mr. Woodward’s book.

    “It really didn’t match Secretary Rice’s recollection of the meeting at all,” said Dan Bartlett, counselor to President Bush, in an interview on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”

    “It kind of left us scratching our heads because we don’t believe that’s an accurate account,” he said.

    Although passages of the book suggest that Mr. Tenet was a major source for Mr. Woodward, the former intelligence director has refused to comment on the book.

    Nor has there been any comment from J. Cofer Black, Mr. Tenet’s counterterrorism chief, who is reported in the book to have attended the July 10 meeting and left it frustrated by Ms. Rice’s “brush-off” of the warnings.

    He is quoted as saying, “The only thing we didn’t do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.” Mr. Black did not return calls left at the security firm Blackwater, which he joined last year.

    The book says that Mr. Tenet hurriedly organized the meeting — calling ahead from his car as it traveled to the White House — because he wanted to “shake Rice” into persuading the president to respond to dire intelligence warnings that summer about a terrorist strike. Mr. Woodward writes that Mr. Tenet left the meeting frustrated because “they were not getting through to Rice.”

    The disclosures took members of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission by surprise last week. Some questioned whether information about the July 10 meeting was intentionally withheld from the panel.

    In interviews Saturday and today, commission members said they were never told about the meeting despite hours of public and private questioning with Ms. Rice, Mr. Tenet and Mr. Black, much of it focused specifically on how the White House had dealt with terrorist threats in the summer of 2001.

    “None of this was shared with us in hours of private interviews, including interviews under oath, nor do we have any paper on this,” said Timothy J. Roemer, a Democratic member of the commission and a former House member from Indiana. “I’m deeply disturbed by this. I’m furious.”

    Another Democratic commissioner, former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste, said that the staff of the Sept. 11 commission was polled in recent days on the disclosures in Mr. Woodward’s book and agreed that the meeting “was never mentioned to us.”

    “This is certainly something we would have wanted to know about,” he said, referring to the July 10, 2001, meeting.

    He said he had attended the commission’s private interviews with both Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice and had pressed “very hard for them to provide us with everything they had regarding conversations with the executive branch” about terrorist threats before the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and now a top aide to Ms. Rice at the State Department, agreed that no witness before the commission had drawn attention to a July 10 meeting at the White House, nor described the sort of encounter portrayed in Mr. Woodward’s book.

    Mr. Zelikow said that it was “entirely plausible” that a meeting occurred on July 10, during a period that summer in which intelligence agencies were being flooded with warnings of a terrorist attack against the United States or its allies.

    But he said the commissioners and their staff had heard nothing in their private interviews with Mr. Tenet and Mr. Black to suggest that they had made such a dire presentation to Ms. Rice or that she had rebuffed them.

    “If we had heard something that drew our attention to this meeting, it would have been a huge thing,” he said. “Repeatedly Tenet and Black said they could not remember what had transpired in some of those meetings.”

    Democratic lawmakers have seized on Mr. Woodward’s book in arguing that the Bush administration bungled the war in Iraq and paid too little attention to terrorist threats in the months before Sept. 11.

    Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on “Face the Nation” on CBS that there had been “rumors” of such an encounter between Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice in the summer of 2001.

    Mr. Woodward’s book, he said, raised the question of “why didn’t Condi Rice and George Tenet tell the 9/11 commission about that? They were obliged to do that and they didn’t.”
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Rice disputes report she brushed off CIA chief

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...100200112.html

    By Arshad Mohammed
    Monday, October 2, 2006; 4:18 AM

    SHANNON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday disputed a report that she brushed off the head of the CIA when he warned of a possible attack on the United States before September 11, 2001.

    She also described as "simply ludicrous" an account in a new book by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had refused to return her telephone calls.

    In "State of Denial: Bush at War Part III," Woodward describes a July 10, 2001 meeting in which George Tenet, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and his top counterterrorism aide Cofer Black sought to impress on Rice their fears that an attack on the United States was likely.

    According to an excerpt published in the Washington Post, Tenet made an abrupt request for a meeting with Rice in the hopes of shaking her. The account said both Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice, who gave them a polite hearing and a "brush-off."

    The release of the book, less than six weeks before the November 7 mid-term congressional elections in the United States, has revived questions about whether President Bush and his aides did enough to protect the United States before the September 11 attacks.

    Rice said she had no specific recollection of the meeting, stressed that the threat reporting at the time was about potential attacks abroad rather than at home, and denied she was given a warning of a possible strike on the United States.

    "I don't know that this meeting took place ... what I am quite certain of is that (it) was not a meeting in which I was told that there was an impending attack and I refused to respond," Rice told reporters as she flew to the Middle East.

    "I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States. And the idea that I would somehow have ignored that, I find, incomprehensible," Rice added.

    Rice described steps she and others took before the July 10 meeting described in the book, including arranging a briefing for U.S. domestic agencies such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, to warn them that an attack on the United States was possible even though intelligence suggested a strike abroad.

    She said she and other U.S. officials were constantly sifting intelligence about possible threats, working with foreign governments to try to disrupt potential strikes abroad and taking protective measures, including moving the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

    Rice also denied a report that she had trouble getting Rumsfeld to return her calls and that she tried to get him fired.

    "The idea that he wasn't returning my phone calls is simply ludicrous," Rice said, adding that she talks to Rumsfeld several times a week.

    Rice said when Bush asked her to be his secretary of state, she had floated the idea of replacing his entire national security team because his aides had endured the September 11 attacks and had overseen wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    "I said I think maybe you need new people," she said. "I don't know if that somehow was interpreted - but (I) was actually talking about me."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Details of 2001 meeting shock 9/11 commission
    Ex-CIA director reportedly warned Rice about likely al-Qaida attack

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/4228618.html

    Chronicle News Services
    10/2/2006

    WASHINGTON - Members of the Sept. 11 commission said Sunday they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a July 2001 White House meeting at which George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, about an imminent al-Qaida attack and failed to persuade her to take action.

    Details of the meeting on July 10, 2001, two months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, were reported last week in a new book by Bob Woodward. The White House disputes his account.

    The final report from the Sept. 11 commission made no mention of the meeting nor did it suggest there had been such an encounter between Tenet and Rice, now secretary of state.

    Since release of the book, State of Denial, the White House and Rice have disputed major elements of Woodward's account.

    Rice has said through spokesmen that there had been no such exchange in a private meeting with Tenet and that he had expressed none of the frustration attributed to him in Woodward's book.

    "It really didn't match Secretary Rice's recollection of the meeting at all," said Dan Bartlett, counselor to President Bush, on CBS's Face the Nation.

    Commission members said they were never told about the meeting despite hours of questioning with Rice, Tenet and J. Cofer Black, Tenet's counterterrorism chief.

    "None of this was shared with us in hours of private interviews, including interviews under oath, nor do we have any paper on this," said Timothy J. Roemer, a Democratic member of the commission and a former congressman from Indiana. "I'm deeply disturbed by this."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Rice: No Memory of CIA Warning of Attack
    Rice says she cannot recall CIA warning of coming al-Qaida attack in the U.S.

    http://www.rawstory.com/showoutartic...8KGJN3O0.shtml

    By ANNE GEARAN AP Diplomatic Writer
    SHANNON, Ireland, Oct. 2, 2006

    (AP) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she cannot recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her of an impending al-Qaida attack in the United States, as a new book claims he did two months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

    "What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.

    Rice was President Bush's national security adviser in 2001, when Bob Woodward's book "State of Denial" outlines a July 10 meeting among Rice, Tenet and the CIA's top counterterror officer.

    "I don't know that this meeting took place, but what I really don't know, what I'm quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told there was an impending attack and I refused to respond," Rice said.

    Speaking to reporters en route to Saudi Arabia and other stops in the Middle East, Rice said she met with Tenet daily at that point, and has no memory of the wake-up call from Tenet described in the book.

    "It kind of doesn't ring true that you have to shock me into something I was very involved in," Rice said.

    There was near constant discussion of possible attacks overseas, and high alarm, Rice said.

    The meeting between Tenet, Rice and Cofer Black of the CIA was not mentioned in the reports from several investigations of the Sept. 11 attacks, but Woodward wrote that it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the "starkest warning they had given the White House" on al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his network.

    Tenet asked for the meeting after receiving a disturbing briefing from Black, according to the book.

    But though Tenet and Black warned Rice in the starkest terms of the prospects for attack, she brushed them off, Woodward reiterated Monday. He told NBC's "Today" show that Black told him the two men were so emphatic, it amounted to "holding a gun to her head" and doing everything except pulling the trigger.

    Black reportedly laid out secret intercepts and other data "showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaida would soon attack the United States." Tenet was so worried that he called Rice from his car and asked to see her right away, the book said.

    "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice," Woodward wrote of the session. "She was polite, but they felt the brush-off."

    Rice referred to the session as "the supposed meeting" and noted that it is not part of the independent Sept. 11 Commission's report.

    "I remember that George was very worried and he expressed that," Rice told reporters. "We were all very worried because the threat reporting was quite intense. The problem was that it was also quite nebulous."

    Rice, who was promoted to secretary of state in Bush's second term, also said she never argued that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be fired. The book's suggestion that Rumsfeld would not take her calls is "ludicrous," Rice said.

    Rumsfeld and Rice are not close, and he is often considered her rival in administration decision making. Woodward wrote that then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card twice tried to get Bush to sack Rumsfeld and replace him with Bush family counselor James A. Baker III, and that both then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and Rice backed the plan.

    Woodward interviewed Rice for his new book.

    Rice's latest Middle East trip is focused on strengthening support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other moderate Arab leaders after a series of setbacks for democratic and moderate forces in the region.

    Her trip includes visits to allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt and a meeting of other friendly nations that ring the Persian Gulf, before visits to Israel and the West Bank.

    Rice is looking for new ways to improve Abbas' standing in his standoff with Hamas radicals trounced Abbas' secular Fatah Party in Palestinian elections in January. Abbas was elected separately and retains his position, but he has been hamstrung by the divided government and a cutoff of Western aid.

    The Bush administration and Israel are increasingly convinced Hamas will crumble, and look to Abbas to capitalize. Rice may ask other countries to do more to bolster Abbas' security forces, and she hopes to breathe life into stalled agreements and talks that would help Palestinians move more freely across their borders with Israel.

    Iran's nuclear ambitions will also be part of Rice's discussions, as an unofficial deadline passes this week for Iran to heed a U.N. Security Council demand to shelve disputed nuclear activities.

    Rice said Sunday she may close her trip Friday with a meeting of world powers in Europe to look at what to do next. The United States wants to press for U.N. Security Council sanctions, but it is not clear she has full support from other permanent members of the council.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    9/11 Commission saw the 'scary' briefing of 2001

    http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/15662785.htm

    By JONATHAN S. LANDAY, WARREN P. STROBEL and JOHN WALCOTT
    McClatchy Newspapers
    10/2/2006

    WASHINGTON - The independent Sept. 11, 2001, commission was given the same “scary” briefing about an imminent al Qaida attack on a U.S. target that was presented to the White House two months before the attacks, but failed to disclose the warning in its 428-page report.

    Former CIA Director George Tenet presented the briefing to commission member Richard Ben Veniste and executive director Philip Zelikow in secret testimony at CIA headquarters on Jan. 28, 2004, said three former senior agency officials.

    Tenet raised the matter himself, displayed slides from a Power Point presentation that he and other officials had given to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001, and offered to testify on the matter in public if the commission asked him to, they said.

    In the briefing, Tenet warned "in very strong terms" that intelligence from a variety of sources indicated that Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization was planning an attack on a U.S. target in the near future, but didn't provide specifics about the exact timing or nature of a possible attack, or about whether it would take place in the United States or overseas, said the former senior intelligence officials, all of whom requested anonymity because Tenet’s presentation was classified.

    However, said one of the officials, "the briefing was intended to 'connect the dots' contained in other intelligence reports and paint a very clear picture of the threat posed by bin Laden." The CIA declined to comment.

    The 9/11 panel, however, never asked for additional information or mentioned the briefing in their report.

    Former commission members, including Ben Veniste, have said they were never told about the briefing that had been given to Rice, now secretary of state.

    Their protestations were triggered by an account of the briefing in “State of Denial,” a new book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.

    The former senior intelligence officials challenged some aspects of Woodward’s account of the briefing to Rice, including assertions that she failed to react to the warning and that the information concerned an imminent attack in the United States.

    The briefing “didn’t say within the United States,” one former senior intelligence official recounted. “It said on the United States, which could mean a ship, an embassy or inside the United States.”

    Richard Clarke, who was the National Security Council's top counter-terrorism advisor, confirmed the former senior intelligence officials’ account. Clarke was present when Tenet briefed Rice, along with deputy national security adviser Steven Hadley, CIA counter-terrorism chief Cofer Black and another CIA officer whose identity remains protected.
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    Rice: I Don't Recall Alert About Attack

    http://www.helenair.com/articles/200.../d8kgnkvo0.txt

    By ANNE GEARAN
    10/2/2006

    SHANNON, Ireland - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she cannot recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her of an impending al-Qaida attack in the United States, as a new book claims he did two months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

    "What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.

    Rice was President Bush's national security adviser in 2001, when Bob Woodward's book "State of Denial" outlines a July 10 meeting among Rice, Tenet and the CIA's top counterterror officer.

    "I don't know that this meeting took place, but what I really don't know, what I'm quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told there was an impending attack and I refused to respond," Rice said.

    Speaking to reporters en route to Saudi Arabia and other stops in the Middle East, Rice said she met with Tenet daily at that point, and has no memory of the wake-up call from Tenet described in the book.

    "It kind of doesn't ring true that you have to shock me into something I was very involved in," Rice said.

    There was near constant discussion of possible attacks overseas, and high alarm, Rice said.

    Meanwhile, former Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday that he should have been notified of any such report dealing with a pending attack on the United States. "It just occurred to me how disappointing it was that they didn't come to me with this type of information," Ashcroft said in an interview with The Associated Press.

    "The FBI is responsible for domestic terrorism," Ashcroft said. He said both Tenet and Cofer Black of the CIA should have been aware that he had pressed for a more aggressive policy in going after bin Laden and his followers in the United States and should have briefed him as well. Rice knew of this advocacy, he suggested.

    "There was no covert action to kill him and we needed one," Ashcroft said.

    The meeting between Tenet, Rice and Black was not mentioned in the reports from several investigations of the Sept. 11 attacks, but Woodward wrote that it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the "starkest warning they had given the White House" on al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his network.

    Tenet asked for the meeting after receiving a disturbing briefing from Black, according to the book.

    But though Tenet and Black warned Rice in the starkest terms of the prospects for attack, she brushed them off, Woodward reiterated Monday. He told NBC's "Today" show that Black told him the two men were so emphatic, it amounted to "holding a gun to her head" and doing everything except pulling the trigger.

    Black reportedly laid out secret intercepts and other data "showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaida would soon attack the United States." Tenet was so worried that he called Rice from his car and asked to see her right away, the book said.

    "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice," Woodward wrote of the session. "She was polite, but they felt the brush-off."

    Rice referred to the session as "the supposed meeting" and noted that it is not part of the independent Sept. 11 Commission's report.

    "I remember that George was very worried and he expressed that," Rice told reporters. "We were all very worried because the threat reporting was quite intense. The problem was that it was also quite nebulous."

    Rice, who was promoted to secretary of state in Bush's second term, also said she never argued that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be fired. The book's suggestion that Rumsfeld would not take her calls is "ludicrous," Rice said.

    Rumsfeld and Rice are not close, and he is often considered her rival in administration decision making. Woodward wrote that then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card twice tried to get Bush to sack Rumsfeld and replace him with Bush family counselor James A. Baker III, and that both then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and Rice backed the plan.

    Woodward interviewed Rice for his new book.

    Rice's latest Middle East trip is focused on strengthening support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other moderate Arab leaders after a series of setbacks for democratic and moderate forces in the region.

    Her trip includes visits to allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt and a meeting of other friendly nations that ring the Persian Gulf, before visits to Israel and the West Bank.

    Rice is looking for new ways to improve Abbas' standing in his standoff with Hamas radicals trounced Abbas' secular Fatah Party in Palestinian elections in January. Abbas was elected separately and retains his position, but he has been hamstrung by the divided government and a cutoff of Western aid.

    The Bush administration and Israel are increasingly convinced Hamas will crumble, and look to Abbas to capitalize. Rice may ask other countries to do more to bolster Abbas' security forces, and she hopes to breathe life into stalled agreements and talks that would help Palestinians move more freely across their borders with Israel.

    Iran's nuclear ambitions will also be part of Rice's discussions, as an unofficial deadline passes this week for Iran to heed a U.N. Security Council demand to shelve disputed nuclear activities.

    Rice said Sunday she may close her trip Friday with a meeting of world powers in Europe to look at what to do next. The United States wants to press for U.N. Security Council sanctions, but it is not clear she has full support from other permanent members of the council.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  9. #9
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    Rumsfeld, Ashcroft said to have received warning of attack

    http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate...n/15663417.htm

    By Jonathan S. Landay, Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott
    McClatchy Newspapers
    10/2/2006

    WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaida strike on an American target that was given to the White House two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    The State Department's disclosure Monday that the pair was briefed within a week after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was told about the threat on July 10, 2001, raised new questions about what the Bush administration did in response, and about why so many officials have claimed they never received or don't remember the warning.

    One official who helped to prepare the briefing, which included a PowerPoint presentation, described it as a "10 on a scale of 1 to 10" that "connected the dots" in earlier intelligence reports to present a stark warning that al-Qaida, which had already killed Americans in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and East Africa, was poised to strike again.

    Former CIA Director George Tenet gave the independent Sept. 11, 2001, commission the same briefing on Jan. 28, 2004, but the commission made no mention of the warning in its 428-page final report. According to three former senior intelligence officials, Tenet testified to commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste and to Philip Zelikow, the panel's executive director and the principal author of its report, who's now Rice's top adviser.

    A new book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post alleges that Rice failed to take the July 2001 warning seriously when it was delivered at a White House meeting by Tenet, Cofer Black, then the agency's chief of top counterterrorism, and a third CIA official whose identity remains protected.

    Rice's deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, who became national security adviser after she became secretary of state, and Rice's top counterterrorism aide, Richard Clarke, also were present.

    Woodward wrote that Tenet and Black considered the briefing the "starkest warning they had given the White House" on the threat posed by Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. But, he wrote, the pair felt as if Rice gave them "the brush-off."

    Speaking to reporters late Sunday en route to the Middle East, Rice said she had no recollection of what she called "the supposed meeting."

    "What I'm quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told that there was an impending attack and I refused to respond," she said.

    Ashcroft, who resigned as attorney general on Nov. 9, 2004, told the Associated Press on Monday that it was "disappointing" that he never received the briefing, either.

    But on Monday evening, Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement confirming that she'd received the CIA briefing "on or around July 10" and had asked that it be given to Ashcroft and Rumsfeld.

    "The information presented in this meeting was not new, rather it was a good summary from the threat reporting from the previous several weeks," McCormack said. "After this meeting, Dr. Rice asked that this same information be briefed to Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft. That briefing took place by July 17."

    Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, a Pentagon spokesman, said he had no information "about what may or may not have been briefed" to Rumsfeld at Rice's request.

    David Ayres, who was Ashcroft's chief of staff at the Justice Department, said that the former attorney general also has no recollection of a July 17, 2001, terrorist threat briefing. Later, Ayres said that Ashcroft could recall only a July 5 briefing on threats to U.S. interests abroad.

    He said Ashcroft doesn't remember any briefing that summer that indicated that al-Qaida was planning to attack within the United States.

    The CIA briefing didn't provide the exact timing or nature of a possible attack, nor did it predict whether it was likely to take place in the United States or overseas, said three former senior intelligence officials.

    They spoke on condition of anonymity because the report remains highly classified.

    The briefing "didn't say within the United States," said one former senior intelligence official. "It said on the United States, which could mean a ship, an embassy or inside the United States."

    In the briefing, Tenet warned in very strong terms that intelligence from a variety of sources indicated that bin Laden's terrorist network was planning an attack on a U.S. target in the near future, said one of the officials.

    "The briefing was intended to `connect the dots' contained in other intelligence reports and paint a very clear picture of the threat posed by bin Laden," said the official, who described the tone of the report as "scary."

    It isn't clear what action, if any, the administration took in response, but officials said Rumsfeld was focused mostly on his plans to remake the Army into a smaller, high-tech force and deploy a national ballistic missile defense system.

    Nor is it clear why the 9/11 commission never reported the briefing, which the intelligence officials said Tenet outlined to commission members Ben-Veniste and Zelikow in secret testimony at CIA headquarters. The State Department confirmed that the briefing materials were "made available to the 9/11 Commission, and Director Tenet was asked about this meeting when interviewed by the 9/11 Commission."

    The three former senior intelligence officials, however, said Tenet raised the matter with the panel himself, displayed slides from the PowerPoint presentation and offered to testify on the matter in public.

    Ben-Veniste confirmed to McClatchy Newspapers that Tenet outlined for the 9/11 commission the July 10 briefing to Rice in secret testimony in January 2004. He referred questions about why the commission omitted any mention of the briefing in its report to Zelikow, the report's main author. Zelikow didn't respond to e-mail and telephone queries from McClatchy Newspapers.

    Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism chief, Ben-Veniste and the former senior intelligence officials all challenged some aspects of Woodward's account of the briefing given to Rice, including assertions that she failed to react to the warning and that it concerned an imminent attack inside the United States.

    Clarke told McClatchy Newspapers that Rice focused in particular on the possible threat to President Bush at an upcoming summit meeting in Genoa, Italy, and promised to quickly schedule a high-level White House meeting on al-Qaida. That meeting took place on September 4, 2001.

    Ben-Veniste said the commission was never told that Rice had brushed off the warning. According to Tenet, he said, Rice "understood the level of urgency he was communicating."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  10. #10
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    Records Show Tenet Briefed Rice on Al Qaeda Threat

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/02/wa...&partner=MYWAY

    By PHILIP SHENON and MARK MAZZETTI
    Published: October 2, 2006

    JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 2 — A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.

    The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she did not recall the specific meeting on July 10, 2001, noting that she had met repeatedly with Mr. Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Ms. Rice, the national security adviser at the time, said it was “incomprehensible” she ignored dire terrorist threats two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Mr. McCormack also said records show that the Sept. 11 commission was informed about the meeting, a fact that former intelligence officials and members of the commission confirmed on Monday.

    When details of the meeting emerged last week in a new book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Bush administration officials questioned Mr. Woodward’s reporting.

    Now, after several days, both current and former Bush administration officials have confirmed parts of Mr. Woodward’s account.

    Officials now agree that on July 10, 2001, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism deputy, J. Cofer Black, were so alarmed about an impending Al Qaeda attack that they demanded an emergency meeting at the White House with Ms. Rice and her National Security Council staff.

    According to two former intelligence officials, Mr. Tenet told those assembled at the White House about the growing body of intelligence the Central Intelligence Agency had collected pointing to an impending Al Qaeda attack. But both current and former officials took issue with Mr. Woodward’s account that Mr. Tenet and his aides left the meeting in frustration, feeling as if Ms. Rice had ignored them.

    Mr. Tenet told members of the Sept. 11 commission about the July 10 meeting when they interviewed him in early 2004, but committee members said the former C.I.A. director never indicated he had left the White House with the impression that he had been ignored.

    “Tenet never told us that he was brushed off,” said Richard Ben-Veniste, a Democratic member of the commission. “We certainly would have followed that up.”

    Mr. McCormack said the records showed that, far from ignoring Mr. Tenet’s warnings, Ms. Rice acted on the intelligence and requested that Mr. Tenet make the same presentation to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Atttorney General John Ashcroft.

    But Mr. Ashcroft said by telephone on Monday evening that he never received a briefing that summer from Mr. Tenet.

    “Frankly, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get that kind of briefing,” he said. “I’m surprised he didn’t think it was important enough to come by and tell me.”

    The dispute that has played out in recent days gives further evidence of an escalating battle between the White House and Mr. Tenet over who should take the blame for such mistakes as the failure to stop the Sept. 11 attacks and assertions by Bush administration officials that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling chemical and biological weapons and cultivating ties to Al Qaeda.

    Mr. Tenet resigned as director of central intelligence in the summer of 2004 and was honored that December with a Presidential Medal of Freedom during a White House ceremony. Since leaving the C.I.A., Mr. Tenet has stayed out of the public eye, largely declining to defend his record at the C.I.A. even after several government investigations have assailed the faulty intelligence that helped build the case for the Iraq war.

    Mr. Tenet is now completing work on a memoir that is scheduled to be published early next year.

    It is unclear how muchMr. Tenet will use the book to settle old scores, although recent books have portrayed Mr. Tenet both as dubious about the need for the Iraq war and angry that the White House has made the C.I.A. the primary scapegoat for the war.

    In his book “The One Percent Doctrine,” the journalist and author Ron Suskind quotes Mr. Tenet’s former deputy at the C.I.A., John McLaughlin, saying that Mr. Tenet “wishes he could give that damn medal back.”

    In his own book, Mr. Woodward wrote that over time Mr. Tenet developed a particular dislike for Ms. Rice, and that the former C.I.A. director was furious when she publicly blamed the agency for allowing President Bush to make the false claim in the 2003 State of the Union Address that Saddam Hussein was pursuing nuclear materials in Niger.

    “If the C.I.A., the Director of National Intelligence, had said ‘take this out of the speech,’ it would have been gone, without question,” Ms. Rice told reporters in July 2003.

    In fact, the C.I.A. had told the White House months before that the Niger intelligence was bogus and had managed to keep the claim out of an October 2002 speech that President Bush gave in Cincinnati.

    More recently, Mr. Tenet has told friends that he was particularly angry when, appearing recently on Sunday talk shows, both Ms. Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney cited Mr. Tenet by name as the reason that Bush administration officials asserted that Mr. Hussein had stockpiles of banned weapons in Iraq and ties to Al Qaeda.

    Mr. Cheney recalled during an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sept. 10 of this year: “George Tenet sat in the Oval Office and the president of the United States asked him directly, he said, ‘George, how good is the case against Saddam on weapons of mass destruction?’ the director of the C.I.A. said, ‘It’s a slam dunk, Mr. President, it’s a slam dunk.’ ”
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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