Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

Americans like round numbers, and 10 is one of them. We use them to celebrate wedding anniversaries, class reunions, and other important events. In my lifetime, the biggest were the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1976) and anniversary dates marking important World War II events, such as June 6, 1994 (50 years after the D-Day landings on Normandy beaches in France). But September 11, 2011, marks the first national observance of an event that occurred that seems more like current events than history. A lot will be written about the Bush Administration's response to the attacks, but history should not forget what President Bush's response was a month before the attacks were launched, when he received the the August 6, 2001, presidential daily briefing entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in US." which contained the following language:

"Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America.""

According to Ron Suskind's book, using interviews from form CIA officials, including former CIA Director George Tenet, a month before the 9-11 attacks a CIA staffer went to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, while Bush was on one of his many vacations. The CIA briefer's visit occurred after a number of reports had surfaced regarding a pending al-Qaeda attack. The briefer made the trip for one reason: to call the president's attention personally to the August 6, 2001, memo.

And what was President Bush's response to the briefer trying to alert him to the threat? "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

That pretty much sums up our 43rd president.