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Rice warned of Al Qaeda threat before 9/11

  1. Feb 12, 2005 #1
    Suppressing freedom of information is only credible if you can trust those in power to act on your behalf in a manner that you would if you had that information.

    "White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke warned then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that al Qaeda was an "active, major force" that needed immediate attention. The communiqué was written five days after President Bush took office in 2001".
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4494777
     
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  3. Feb 12, 2005 #2

    russ_watters

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    The memo may be new, but the content is not. We already know they had multiple vague warnings about Al Qaeda. Don't you remember, one of Clinton's turnover briefs went something like: 'I didn't do anything about Al Qaeda, but you should'?
     
  4. Feb 12, 2005 #3

    BobG

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    You always hear how information that would have tipped us off to 9/11 was available, but our security and intel system was just to bureaucratic and inefficient to put the dots together.

    That may be somewhat fair, since the purpose of our security agencies is to do just that, but what you don't hear mentioned is just how much information, both good and bad, circulates through the system. We've made huge improvements in our ability to collect and store data (not just security and intel data), but that just makes analyzing all of that data all the more challenging.

    I give Bush a lot of flak for his decision to invade Iraq and just because, when you look at his life overall, he's a loser who wouldn't even be elected dog catcher if not for being Bush 41's son, but blaming him for 9/11 just isn't fair. There were some general policy mistakes made over the years, including the Clinton years, about how to handle Bin Laden, but most of those were more an acceptance of political realities than real mistakes (i.e. - going into Afghanistan and cleaning out Bin Laden's training camps would have been the most effective thing to do, but you sure couldn't have justified that to America or the rest of world before 9/11).
     
  5. Feb 12, 2005 #4

    loseyourname

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    It's not like 9/11 was the first time Al Qaeda attacked an American interest. We knew they were a threat.
     
  6. Feb 12, 2005 #5

    SOS2008

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    The rise of terrorism was very well known. With regard to the PDB of August 6, 2001, over a month before 9/11, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" indicating that Osama bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners, the fact is that Bush has struggled to keep the PDB from the public.

    What I remember at the time was a goofy guy on a golf course, and the track record of incompetence since has been appalling. This man would never have been re-elected if it hadn't been for 9-11. It has made some question if the attack was more than just being derelict of duty...
     
  7. Feb 12, 2005 #6

    Gokul43201

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    No, it wasn't like old times.

     
  8. Feb 12, 2005 #7

    loseyourname

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    So you agree with me that we knew Al Qaeda was a threat?
     
  9. Feb 13, 2005 #8
    My impression is that yes, Al Q has been a known threat for some time (although Moore suggests that it is more a label popularised post hoc by the Bush Admin to cover the activities of disparate groups), but the nature of the threat was now different, either in kind (imminent rather than suspected) or degree (major activity rather than minor).

    To reframe my original question, do you feel safe knowing that the Bush Administration fumbled national security once already? Would you feel safer if you personally recieved the type of information that Rice et al did not act upon? This is why I think this is a freedom of information issue as much as national security.
     
  10. Feb 13, 2005 #9

    SOS2008

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    Yes, we knew Al Qaeda was a threat. Yes, Bush dropped the ball on his watch.

    However, we know the venerability of our homeland security, and that there is no such thing as being "safe" no matter who is at the helm. Maybe the question should be: Why hasn't there been another attack? Would another attack strengthen or destroy this administration's position? Efforts to disrupt imperialism, such as the violence in Iraq is a better approach for them.
     
  11. Feb 13, 2005 #10

    russ_watters

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    Minor point of clarification (I don't think you'll object) - while there were dots that could have been connected (such as tips that Middle-Eastern men were taking flying lessons and weren't particularly concerned with landing), this memo was not one of them.
    At face value, your question is misleading and unfair unless you can show that "the nature of the threat was now different," or that Clinton's response to the threat was inadequate. My perception (Bush's perception) is/was that the they are/were a major threat, but in 2001, that threat was little different from during Clinton's term. And you and I both know that the world would not have accepted a pre-emptive strike on Afghanistan early in 2001. Remember, 9/11 was not the first time Al Qaeda bombed the WTC.

    So to answer your question, yes, I feel safe. I feel safe because I know we have a President who responds to threats. I did not feel safe under Clinton - seeing the terrorism going on then, I honestly felt, at the time, that we were sitting on a bomb, waiting to go off. Though I doubt even Clinton would have avoided invading Afghanistan in 2001, the question you should ask yourself is: would Bush have invaded Afghanistan in 1993?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2005
  12. Feb 13, 2005 #11

    SOS2008

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    I'm so glad we are no longer in a MAD cold-war world with a trigger-finger President surrounded by his yes-man/woman, group think administration (per case studies of Bay of Pigs vs. Cuban Missile Crisis). As for 9-11, ANYONE would have reacted as Bush did, including going into Afghanistan--that's a no-brainer. The problem has been that the focus was shifted away from Afghanistan so quickly to take our country down a path of over-extension with lies and deception. Even earlier Presidents have expressed concern, which probably would include Reagan if he was still alive.
     
  13. Feb 13, 2005 #12

    Gokul43201

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    Either you're playing dumb here or I didn't provide enough background.

    There is always the threat of a large seismic event in the pacific northwest, but when you start measuring significantly higher levels of acidity in spring-water, it's time to act.

    It was this kind of threat level that had Tenet's "hair on fire". He hadn't been that way all along.
     
  14. Feb 13, 2005 #13

    Gokul43201

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    Don't you mean 1997? There is no way Bush would think of invading Afghanistan in 1993 ? On what basis would he justify this invasion?

    PS : Russ indulging in hypotheticals !! What is this world coming to ? :eek:
     
  15. Feb 13, 2005 #14

    russ_watters

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    Its not much of a hypothetical: 1993 was the first time Al Qaeda bombed the WTC! That's when they learned that a truck-bomb next to a column in the basement was not enough to bring them down. They also learned that its not a good idea to report the van stolen after you blow it up...

    http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0408c.asp

    Interesting and apropos article.

    and another:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2800297.stm

    The bottom line is that I firmly believe Clinton would have invaded Afghanistan had he been president on 9/11. But he was president on the warm-up attack which, had it worked, could have been an order of magnitude worse.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2005
  16. Feb 13, 2005 #15

    Moonbear

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    Hindsight is always 20/20. There still remains a world of difference between knowing they were planning something, somewhere in the US, soon and knowing precisely what was planned, what the target was, what the weapon was, which people were going to carry it out (not generally Al Qaeda, but which memers, and who are all their members?), how they would carry it out, and on which day and time in order to counter that attack or prevent it.
     
  17. Feb 13, 2005 #16

    Gokul43201

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    This may be reason to call for airstrikes/covert action on al Qaeda camps and engage the prevailing "govt" in talks. It's hardly reason to invade the country. Remember, the Taliban government that provided refuge to al Qaeda did not come to power until late in 1996, when they ousted the existing "government" and executed its leaders.
     
  18. Feb 14, 2005 #17

    Gokul43201

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    I thought this was the point of this thread but just realized that it hasn't been pointed out.

    Isn't that a lie, Madam Secretary ?
     
  19. Feb 14, 2005 #18
    How can I prove that the nature of the threat was different before 9/11 without having reliable information? This is an example of the problem I raised in the opening post: the lack of freedom of information. For the same reason you can't prove that the information available showed the threat to be the same at that time. 'Misleading and unfair' my eye :rolleyes:

    Well what would you do if you couldn't convince yourself that you are safe? Life becomes a lot less cosy, and sleep less easy.

    :rofl: Sweet dreams!
     
  20. Feb 14, 2005 #19

    Gokul43201

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    But this is exactly what Clarke has been trying to convey. Every interview/article/book he's taken/written says that the nature of the threat was different and much more urgent than before !
     
  21. Feb 16, 2005 #20

    russ_watters

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    Ok, quick history problem: yeah, Bin Laden was based in the Sudan in '93. So to recharacterize somewhat:
    Why not? What is the criteria? Actual death toll? Potential death toll? Actual economic impact? Potential economic impact? Level of security breach?

    But set that aside for a sec: if Clinton had invaded the Sudan in '93, and/or pursued Bin Laden to Afghanistan (after, say, the Khobar bombing) is there any chance that that could have prevented 9/11?
    Sorry, but that's your problem, not mine: you're the one who wants to blame Bush for failing to prevent 9/11, while simultaneously saying he's acting too pro-actively with Iraq, and also not wanting to hold Clinton accountable for any of this. That's 3 mutually exclusive positions!
    Excuse me? This particular memo is about information turned over by Clinton. If the situation for Bush was different than for Clinton, Clinton couldn't have turned over the info to Bush! See, that's the problem: people are blaming Bush for not acting on information that Clinton also didn't act on. But worse than that, Clinton didn't adequately act on multiple actual terrorist actions during his term. For Bush, this was the first action in his term: he had nothing to respond to before that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2005
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