New NSA docs contradict 9/11 claims: “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released," an expert says...

“I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released," an expert tells Salon

Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012

New NSA docs contradict 9/11 claims

(Credit: Reuters)

Over 120 CIA documents concerning 9/11, Osama bin Laden and counterterrorism were published today for the first time, having been newly declassified and released to the National Security Archive. The documents were released after the NSA pored through the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission and sent Freedom of Information Act requests.

The material contains much new information about the hunt before and after 9/11 for bin Laden, the development of the drone campaign in AfPak, and al-Qaida’s relationship with America’s ally, Pakistan. Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.

Let’s start there. In 2000 and 2001, the CIA began using Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Afghanistan. “The idea of using UAVs originated in April 2000 as a result of a request from the NSC’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism to the CIA and the Department of Defense to come up with new ideas to go after the terrorists in Afghanistan,” a 2004 document summarizes. The Pentagon approved the plan for surveillance purposes.

And yet, simultaneously, the CIA declared that budget concerns were forcing it to move its Counterterrorism Center/Osama bin Laden Unit from an “offensive” to a “defensive” posture. For the CIA, that meant trying to get Afghan tribal leaders and the Northern Alliance to kill or capture bin Laden, Elias-Sanborn says. “It was forced to be less of a kinetic operation,” she says. “It had to be only for surveillance, which was not what they considered an offensive posture.”

“Budget concerns … CT [counterterrorism] supplemental still at NSC-OMB [National Security Council – Office of Management and Budget] level,” an April 2000 document reads. “Need forward movement on supplemental soonest due to expected early recess due to conventions, campaigning and elections.” In addition, the Air Force told the CIA that if it lost a drone, the CIA would have to pay for it, which made the agency more reluctant to use the technology.

Still, the drone program began in September 2000. One drone swiftly twice observed an individual “most likely to have been Bin Laden.” But since the CIA only had permission to use the drones for intelligence gathering, it had no way to act on its findings. The agency submitted a proposal to the National Security Council staff in December 2000 that would have significantly expanded the program. “It was too late for the departing Clinton Administration to take action on this strategic request,” however. It wasn’t too late for the Bush administration, though. It just never did.

Former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has taken credit for the drone program that the Bush administration ignored. “Things like working to get an armed Predator that actually turned out to be extraordinarily important, working to get a strategy that would allow us to get better cooperation from Pakistan and from the Central Asians,” she said in 2006. “We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida.” Rice claimed that the Bush administration continued the Clinton administration’s counterterrorism policies, a claim the documents disprove. “If the administration wanted to get it done, I’m sure they could have gotten it done,” says Elias-Sanborn.

Many of the documents publicize for the first time what was first made clear in the 9/11 Commission: The White House received a truly remarkable amount of warnings that al-Qaida was trying to attack the United States. From June to September 2001, a full seven CIA Senior Intelligence Briefs detailed that attacks were imminent, an incredible amount of information from one intelligence agency. One from June called “Bin-Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” writes that “[redacted] expects Usama Bin Laden to launch multiple attacks over the coming days.” The famous August brief called “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike the US” is included. “Al-Qai’da members, including some US citizens, have resided in or travelled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure here,” it says. During the entire month of August, President Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Texas — which tied with one of Richard Nixon’s as the longest vacation ever taken by a president. CIA Director George Tenet has said he didn’t speak to Bush once that month, describing the president as being “on leave.” Bush did not hold a Principals’ meeting on terrorism until September 4, 2001, having downgraded the meetings to a deputies’ meeting, which then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has repeatedly said slowed down anti-Bin Laden efforts “enormously, by months.”

For all the information the documents reveal, one huge matter is conspicuously absent: torture. There are nearly 50 CIA documents relating to such matters as the interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the intelligence gleaned from him, and yet “none of them were declassified at all,” notes Elias-Sanborn. “Certainly, the CIA has a stake in revealing what they did,” and they clearly do not want to reveal their complicity in war crimes.

One last thing is worth mentioning from the documents published today:  Anyone with any doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dangerous to the United States is contradicting U.S. intelligence. “Violence between Israelis and the Palestinians, moreover is making Sunni extremists more willing to participate in attacks against US or Israeli interests,” the CIA wrote in February 2001. It is not the only piece of information revealed by the new documents that will be deeply uncomfortable for the Bush administration and hawks across the country.

Jordan Michael Smith writes about U.S. foreign policy for Salon. He has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post.

More coverage.


the comments at "thedailybeast" are just laughable. Its a bit sad really, its kinda like they are arguing over a cake recipe and no realizes the oven is broke.

Aidan might be right though, its all "softball" stuff. I think its all been vetted and scrubbed any real evidence of collusion.

peace all

LIHOP Or Incompetence?

With all due respect, Salon's version of reality redirects readers from wondering about actual complicity of U.S. interests.

The Al Qaeda (who ever they are) and U.S. "intelligence" cans of worms are bullet trains to nowhere.

Air America...

Aidan, can you or someone else take the time to explain to me how you can have a radio network
(now defunct) with an oh-so-ironic name like Air America and the people associated with it and then still not have those self-same people preface everything they say with: "corrupt government sources said today......" Al Franken is one of the best examples of this. He once said, with a wry ironic twist: "my father and I were watching blacks being sprayed with fire hoses and we looked at each other and said: "that's not good (you see we are Jewish and we were thinking we would be next) and then we looked at each other and said 'that's not right, either.'" Then there was a wry smile on his face. I thought at the time that he was a pretty nuanced thinker but I have seen nothing from him and he was like a "star" on Air America. It boils down to "well, the government sold some illegal drugs but that was all they did and anyone who says otherwise is nuts."

I don't like the Daily Beast.

I don't like the Daily Beast. BushCo weren't incompetent. They wanted to go to war, they did. They wanted to make billions for their corporate friends, they did. They wanted to expand Executive Power, they did. They committed crime, after crime, after crime, after crime in office, and remained teflon coated throughout. They were anything but incompetent.

Stop using the word LIHOP.


One word is enough. Amen.

LIHOP & Incompetence Cards Are Distractions - Thats The Point

The "Bush Knew" and "Failures" hype deters public consideration of direct complicity.

Calling for accountability...

Applies to both incompetence and criminality. It's not our job to prove "direct complicity." We don't have access to all of the documentation, and we don't have access to all of the people necessary to prove anything. Our "job" is to convince a majority of people that we were lied to about the day that is used as the justification for the "Post-9/11 World." Discarding information that comes out that shows a contradiction or a lie shouldn't be discarded, or painted as something people should discard simply because it doesn't coincide with what you think happened. If you avoid the easy lies that could convince people there is a problem, you're only going to make our jobs harder.

The terms "LIHOP" and "MIHOP" were the most divisive things ever introduced to this cause, and should be discarded.

Little To No Evidence Of 9/11 Incompetence Or "Failures"

The government regularly "fails" in its various roles. The "failures" term suggests good faith but unsuccessful federal efforts to prevent and respond to 9/11. The "failures" term should also be discarded.

There is also little to no evidence of an authentic 9/11 Islamic terrorist plot. Just circumstantial evidence based on allegations and assumptions morphed into "fact" by repetition of media and government. Therefore, alleged "Intelligence" of alleged foreign figures and plots should perhaps be viewed with a degree of skepticism or even as "fools gold".


By letting it happen then they made it happen.

Country Mouse City Mouse

"....but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him." They couldn't get the funding? The CIA couldn't get the funding? Couldn't they have had a bake sale or something; they could have made some hashish brownies or some black tar opium. From their own site: "The aggregate intelligence budget was $26.6 billion in fiscal year 1997 and $26.7 billion for fiscal year 1998." That is for all intel, but it says nothing about profitable front companies and drugs. So this is Pollyanna-ish to state they don't have the money. To say nothing of the fact that it is just a red herring. But if the fish stinks don't trust the rest of the buffet.


Why do they bother trotting out such unbelievable nonsense? To reinforce the loyalty of those hypnotized so called patriots?
Even my "right wing " friends think the government was complicit in planning 9/11.

Unless they have proof from their "market research" that spending tax payer dollars on drivel such as the Salon article and release of inane material will result in people believing them, they should desist.

OBL is a CIA Asset

Since OBL was a CIA asset according to Sibel Edmonds, then whatever is revealed in these papers is only what the CIA wants to hear.

Raw Story.

Declassified document contradicts Cheney’s claim of Iraqi connection to 9/11

RawStory readers are better informed than many sites.

Another by Jordan Smith at Salon:
Did 9/11 change the CIA? New documents suggest the agency hasn't reformed itself nearly as much as it claims

New declassified document undermines Cheney's claim

Sharpton: New declassified document undermines Cheney's claim of Iraqi connection to 9/11 - "What's 'pretty well confirmed,'" Sharpton said, "is that Cheney wanted to go to war no matter what."

Then-Vice President Dick Cheney's December 2001 claim of a proven link between the Hussein regime and the 9/11 plotters has been proven false by declassified documents, Al Sharpton reported on Thursday's PoliticsNation.

What's more, Cheney most likely knew the claim was false when he repeated it.

During a December, 2001 Meet the Press appearance, Cheney claimed it was "pretty well confirmed" that Mohamed Atta—one of the 9/11 hijackers—had visited Prague months before the attack, to meet with a consul at Prague's Iraqi embassy. He repeated the claim in September 2003.

The National Security Archive released a newly declassified document this week saying that the Atta who had attempted to enter the Czech Republic in May, 2000 was not the same Mohamed Atta who later helped fly a plane into the World Trade Center. The CIA reportedly briefed the Bush Administration with this information days before Cheney's 2001 Meet the Press appearance.

"What's 'pretty well confirmed,'" Sharpton said, "is that Cheney wanted to go to war no matter what."

Media coverage, incl. Salon, misses the real story

This is obviously a selective release; Elias notes that nearly 50 docs related to interrogation/torture weren't released. However, most media coverage hasn't taken note of that. Instead, this doc dump is portrayed as containing evidence of the CIA's efforts to get bin Laden for years before 9/11, or the govt's incompetence in failing to get him/stop 9/11/do anything to harden defenses and shut down an obviously looming plot; dozens of these docs point to that. The CIA's obviously going to be happy about some of the coverage, as the docs show bin Laden was long considered a threat and attempts were made to disrupt/neutralize that threat for years before 9/11.

But what the media (and some in this thread) are missing is that these docs contain information for which the most plausible explanation is conspiracy to aid and abet the 9/11 plot - which amounts to treason and mass murder, among other things. Many of these docs are sources for Kevin Fenton's book, Disconnecting the Dots, which demonstrates that the most plausible explanation for the CIA and FBI's failure to disrupt the 9/11 plot is that certain people in the CIA - in particular Alec Station chief Richard Blee and probably his deputy Tom Wilshere (Rich and John in the Cmssn Rpt) - knew about al Qaeda's plot for 9/11. At the least, these and other docs show they knew an attack on the US was coming and there were operatives in the US, that they took no concrete steps to shut it down/alert the FBI, and instead acted strangely and even frustrated FBI efforts to discover and disrupt the plot. A real investigation would have pursued lines of investigation concerning this evidence; the Commission never did.

Other aspects of 9/11, such as the failures of the FBI, Secret Service, FAA/NMCC/NORAD, and activities of GW Bush and the PNAC elements of the Bush administration before and after 9/11 including their exploitation of 9/11 to justify war and a domestic security state, as well as the total destruction of WTC 1, 2 and 7 and NIST's and the 9/11 Cmssn's bogus investigations, all indicate the plot was much larger than a few people at CIA. Much of the evidence for this exists in govt records and MSM reporting - at the same time the govt/MSM attempt to bury or spin the facts. However, the actions of these people at CIA were key in helping to create a paper trail of evidence of the existence of a plot by Islamic radicals - a paper trail which also implicates them - though this was ignored by the 9/11 Cmssn, and is ignored by the Establishment media, and, unfortunately, a number of people at 911blogger.

The docs are posted here: