Keith Olbermann takes a “look back” at Bush’s first months in office leading up to 9/11

Keith Olbermann takes a “look back” at Bush’s first months in office leading up to 9/11

At Crooks and Liars, we'll mirror this if it goes down/is taken down.

- Thanks for the tip, Mike.

Rough transcript:

Olbermann: The political debate still raging over Mr. Clinton’s remarks in a Fox News interview Sunday has overshadowed the debate Mr. Clinton suggested the nation ought to have… a discussion of what steps the Bush administration took to get Osama bin Laden or destroy al Qaeda before September 11th.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush declined to address Mr. Clinton’s remarks, saying we’ve already had the "look-back this" and "look-back that."

But if we are to look forward with any clarity, it is important to know the facts about where we have been, and how we got where we are.

Mr. Clinton is not in office.

Mr. Bush is.

His policies determine how the U.S. fights al Qaeda, so it is important that we understand how he has done so in the past.

Comparing the two presidents is valid, and necessary–to illuminate the capacities of the office.

Mr. Clinton said it plainly — he failed to get bin Laden.

Mr. Bush has acknowledged no failures.

But while it has become conventional wisdom, although debunked by the 9/11 Report, that Mr. Clinton dropped an offer from Sudan to hand over bin Laden… it is rare to hear anyone discuss whether similar… but real feelers were extended to Mr. Bush.

And it is, we suspect, even more rare, to see this tape, of the Bush White House addressing reports of such feelers in February, 2001, after we knew al Qaeda had attacked the Cole:

Q: The Taliban in Afghanistan, they have offered that they are ready to hand over Osama bin Laden to Saudi Arabia if the United States would drop its sanctions, and they have a kind of deal that they want to make with the United States. Do you have any comments?

MR. FLEISCHER: Let me take that and get back to you on that.

There is no record of any subsequent discussion on the matter.

In a recent interview, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded to Mr. Clinton by defending the Bush record, and saying, quote,

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda."

Our goal in this report is to rise to Mr. Clinton’s challenge, and assess the record of Mr. Bush’s efforts against al Qaeda in his first eight months in office. We begin with Rice’s denial of a comprehensive Clinton strategy to fight al Qaeda.

On January 25th, five days after Mr. Bush took office, counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke sent Rice a memo, attaching to it a document entitled "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat… of al Qaeda." It was, Clarke wrote, "developed by the last Administration to give to you…[incorporating] diplomatic, economic, military, public diplomacy and intelligence tools."

Clarke’s memo requested a follow-up, cabinet-level meeting to address time-sensitive questions about al Qaeda. But Mr. Bush downgraded counterterrorism from a cabinet-level job, so Clarke now dealt with **deputy** secretaries, instead.

Clarke: "It slowed down enormously, by months. First of all, the deputies committee didn’t meet urgently in January or February.

Why the delay? Rice later explained:

Rice : (4/8/04) "America’s al Qaeda policy wasn’t working because our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working. And our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working because our Pakistan policy wasn’t working. We recognized that America’s counterterrorism policy had to be connected to our regional strategies and to our overall foreign policy."

That, although Clarke’s January 25th memo specifically warned, "…al Qaeda is not some narrow, little terrorist issue that needs to be included in broader regional policy. … By proceeding with separate policy reviews on Central Asia… et cetera, we would deal inadequately with the need for a comprehensive multi-regional policy on al Qaeda."

Clarke’s deputies meeting came in April when, he says, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz insisted the real terrorism threat was not al Qaeda… but Iraq. By July 16, the deputies had a proposal for dealing with al Qaeda… a proposal Clarke says was essentially the same plan he gave Rice five months before. And it still had to go to the principals, the cabinet secretaries.

Clarke: "But the principals’ calendar was full and then they went on vacation, many of them, in August. So we couldn’t meet in August, and therefore, the principals met in September.

Although the principals had already met on other issues, their first meeting on al Qaeda wasn’t until after Labor Day — September 4th.

But what were Mr. Bush and his top advisers doing during this time?

Mr. Bush was personally briefed about al Qaeda even before the election in November, 2000.

During the transition, President Clinton and his National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, say they told Bush and his team of the urgency in getting al Qaeda.

Three days before Mr. Bush took office, Berger spoke at a "passing the baton" event that Rice attended.

Berger (1/17/01): "Sitting at the Norfolk Base with survivors from the USS Cole only reinforced the reality that America is in a deadly struggle with a new breed of anti-western jihadists. Nothing less than a war, I think, is a fair way to describe this."

Eight days later, Clarke sent Rice the strategy Clinton developed for retaliating, in the event al Qaeda was found to be behind October’s attack on the USS Cole.

The next day, the FBI conclusively pinned the Cole attack on al Qaeda.

Mr. Bush ordered no military strike, no escalation of existing Clinton measures. Instead, he repeated Clinton’s previous diplomatic efforts, writing a letter to Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf in February, and another on August 4th.

Until September 11th, even when Mr. Bush was asked about the Cole, an attack carried out on water, by men in a boat, he offered a consistent prescription for keeping America safe, one he reiterated upon taking office.

Bush (2/27/01): "To protect our own people, our allies and friends, we must develop and we must deploy effective missile defenses."

Democrats, who controlled the Senate, warned that his focus was misplaced.

Levin (6/22/01): "I’m also concerned that we may not be putting enough emphasis on countering the most likely threats to our national security and to the security of our forces deployed around the world, those asymmetric threats, like terrorist attacks on the USS Cole, on our barracks and our embassies around the world, on the World Trade Center."

He was not alone.

The executive director of the Hart-Rudman Commission’s request to brief Bush and Cheney on the terror threats they had studied was denied.

On February 26, 2001, Paul Bremer said of the administration, quote, "What they will do is stagger along until there’s a major incident and then suddenly say, ‘Oh my God, shouldn’t we be organized to deal with this?"

According to the 9/11 report, even bin Laden expected Bush to respond militarily to the Cole bombing. Quote, "In February, 2001…according to [a] source, Bin Ladin wanted the United States to attack, and if it did not he would launch something bigger."

The most famous warning came in the August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing, reporting "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

The 9/11 report:

"[Bush] did not recall discussing the August 6 report with the Attorney General or whether Rice had done so."

"We have found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the President and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an al Qaeda attack in the United States. …Tenet does not recall any discussions with the President of the domestic threat during this period."

"Domestic agencies did not know what to do, and no one gave them direction."

"The borders were not hardened. Transportation systems were not fortified. Electronic surveillance was not targeted against a domestic threat. State and local law enforcement were not marshaled to augment the FBI’s efforts. The public was not warned."

Explanations after the fact suggested a lack of familiarity with the recent history of terrorism.

Rice (5/17/02): "I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile - a hijacked airplane as a missile."

Cheney (9/7/04): "[There] wasn’t any way then we could have anticipated what was about to happen, of course, on 9/11."

Bush (1/26/02): "They struck in a way that was unimaginable."

1994 - France disrupts plot to fly a jet into Eiffel Tower.

1995 - Philippines uncovers plot to fly planes into Pentagon and WTC.

September, 1999 - Federal study warns al Qaeda might crash planes into Pentagon.

Spring, 2001 - Testimony at U.S. embassy bombing trial in New York that bin Laden sending agents for pilot training and to acquire planes

July, 2001 - FBI told of Zacarias Moussaoui’s interest in flying jumbo jets.

September, 2001 - FBI memo warns Moussaoui is the type who could "fly something into the World Trade Center."

On September 10th, 2001, Senator Dianne Feinstein requests a meeting with Vice President Cheney to press the case for aggressive counterterrorism measures. She is told Mr. Cheney will need six months to prepare first.

That same day, the N-S-A intercepts a communique from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia stating "tomorrow is zero hour."

It is translated into English on September 12th.

So...LIHOPer or Leftgatekeeper?

Please tell me Olbermann is at least starting to lean toward "LIHOP", otherwise I will assume he is another leftgatekeeper. I remember him snickering at 9/11 Truth after the Chicago conference happened.

Why oh why point out that

Why oh why point out that the new pearl harbor was needed by the neocons.

Just quote their damn own papers...

Keith Olbermann is no Edward R. Murrow

Going after Bush like a pittbull on failing to erect a memorial to 9/11(5 years later), but stopping short on holding Bush directly accountable for facilitating the 9/11 Inside Job attack on America, is simply not enough.

I'm not impressed Keith.

You guys have to understand

You guys have to understand that for a journalist to advocate anything 9/11 is committing career suicide. It doesn't matter how right you are; if he were to suggest that, he would be sacked immediately. Incredibly sad and demoralizing but it's the unfortunate truth.

Very true but what’s worse

Very true but what’s worse carrier suicide or staying silent about treason? He’s doing what he can and I’ve got a lot of respect for Olbermann, but if he wants to take down the Bush Administration and help restore some sanity to the world, then even the slightest hint of 9/11 truth, LIHOP or otherwise, would do that.


I don't get it, Olbermann is the only person I see on television that is bringing ANYTHING reasonable to the table. The ONLY one. What are you all thinking.

Every truther should support him one hundred percent. Same with the anti-war movement, one hundred percent support. Unequivocally! Let people attack the branches while you attack the root. It's all attacking the same problem, just from different directions.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to the one who is striking at the root. ~ Henry David Thoreau

thank you for that much

thank you for that much needed dose of rationality and perspective. some here just dont get it. tunnel vision.

true, but even still i think

true, but even still i think Olbermanns last 3 or 4 commentaries have been extremely good for something on cable news. i can honestly say i have never seen anyone speak so much truth on any MSM except for the short 2 minute segments like Fetzer on Hannity and Jones on Tucker Carlson. Olbermann may not have exposed false flag terrorism yet, but at least he seems to respect the costitution, and he did a great job of exposing the fake terror threats(nexus of politics and terror). he even updated that show recently. who else in the mainstream has done that? hes the only MSM guy ive seen stray past tired talking points and express real disgust at the direction our country is going. some here seem to live in a bubble. i admit i do at times myself when it comes to 9/11, but i feel like nobody here wants to give credit where its due. expecting a MSM talking head like Olbermann to spill the beans on 9/11 is very naive. it would be great but its unrealistic.

This goes into quote collection

"What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?"

Fmr. Nat. Comm. On terrorism chairman Paul Bremer (Feb. 26. 2001)


is one step closer to MIHOP. Keep asking questions Keith!



don't anyone expect too much of Keith Olbermann. Enjoy his hits on the president, but don't bet too much on that horse. I just don't want you to be disappointed.

crusty old cynic

Olberman subjected to fake anthrax atttack

Keith Olberman got some disturbing hate mail recently with a white powder in the envelope. Here's the story:

What is important about this story is that it points up just how malevolent, immoral and despicable the NY Post and by extension Rupert Murdock have become. I think we need to ship the whole Ann Coulter wing of the Republican Party to Gitmo and give them a good daily waterboarding for the rest of their pathological lives.

Beware of Distractions

Just one thing -- the media-contrived debate over who let UBL go is nothing but a distraction. UBL was (he is probably long dead) the CIA's top man in the Middle East. Clinton and Bush both "did not capture" him for that reason.

People, if we want to expose 9/11 we need to keep our eye on the ball and stop letting Bush's media mouthpieces (and left gatekeepers) call the shots. The debate over "who let UBL get away" is bogus!


Bashing Bush is fine, and it's warranted of course. But, Olbermann is helping prop up the Official Version by all this "partisanship" bullshit. I'm sick of it and it's not making any difference anyway. Only 9/11 truth being exposed by the likes of Olbermann and other pundits will offer us any chance for change.

how is he propping up the

how is he propping up the official version by exposing fake terror alerts? how is he propping up the official story by blasting Rummy and Bush for their ridiculous WW2 analogies? how is he propping up the official story by blasting the administration for fear mongering nightly? pointing out how the administration is pissing on the constitution is NOT partisanship, its called doing your job as a journalist. at least SOMEONE is doing it. we all want a MSM talking head to spill the beans on 9/11, but thats a fairy tale notion and you know it.

Chris, you make some good

Chris, you make some good points about what Olbermann has done to expose some of the injustices and lies coming from the Bush administration. We have no quarrel there, and I'm glad he's speaking out.

My comment wasn't about any of those things that you mentioned. Let's stick to the subject ok?

The subject is the Clinton vs. Bush argument about who did the most to go after the big bad Osama. This debate does nothing but pull people into the official version.

Clinton and Bush are BOTH covering up the truth about 9/11 and they're BOTH propping up the official version, don't you agree? So, for Olbermann to choose Clinton's side, he is helping prop up the official version as well.

That's not good enough for me. In fact, Olbermann will get NOWHERE without 9/11 truth.

I don't think it's a fairy tale to PUSH these pundits to deal with 9/11 truth and expose it. Sure, the odds aren't very good, but isn't it worth a fight?

funny, i thought the topic

funny, i thought the topic was "Keith Olbermann takes a “look back” at Bush’s first months in office leading up to 9/11". and as far as not fighting, when did i say that? i just dont see the problem in giving credit where its due. it goes without saying that its bullshit that Olbermann, as well as every other journalist doesnt "go there" in regards to 9/11. by all means push Olbermann, i do it quite regularly. his lack of 9/11 truth does not negate the work he has been doing lately. i know its not saying much, but for a MSM talking head, he has been impressive. i can assure you that i understand the media very well. before i was awoken to the lies of 9/11, my main focus was how terrible our media is, so i understand your anger. but like i said, why not give credit where its due? have you seen his last few special commentaries? im only 23, so the media has been hopelessy corrupted for as long as ive noticed, but ive never seen anything like it in the MSM. we need to encourage journalists that appear to grow balls, not try and castrate them when one happens to finally do his job in a sense.

One Hunderd Percent Support


Hope, wish and work for all TV pundits to move into 911 truth, but unequivocally support the ones that are at the cutting edge. What are you thinking?

Think of 911 this way, you are trying to seduce someone. You want them to go all the way, but they won’t. If you dump them or they dump you, that’s a failure. Nobody need a failure with the most cutting edge commentator out there. Are you gonna get laid criticizing someone or are you gonna get laid by supporting them one hundred percent.

I think

Olbermann is trying to just start the ball rolling towards IMPEACHMENT, once that starts IF Democrats can take the House THEN more questions can be put forth.

Until then however with this Neofascist Cabal in charge if any (single) Journalist says anything regarding 9/11 truth he would be fired & probably handcuffed before the end of the show.

Only if ALL journalist stand up in unison could they just come out with the real facts and we all know that isn't going to happen.
The MSM is complicit in the cover up.

Nothing is going to happen to these Neofascist pigs if we cant get Bush/Cheney Impeached, NOTHING! they will skate away scott free and the next Neofascist SOB will step right up and continue the destruction of this country.

That makes this next election in Nov probably the most important election in American history.

and we are at a severe disadvantage because the MSM mostly denys the voter/election fraud exist, the Electrontic vote rigging is still in place, and if need be the Neofascist will stop at nothing to make sure they remain a totalitarian dictatorship, including nuking a large US city vaporizing millions.