Ugly, dumb-ass memory: Jeb! during the second GOP debate in September: ‘“You know what? As it relates to my brother, there is one thing I know for sure: He kept us safe. I don’t know if you remember, Donald. Do you remember the rubble? Do you remember the firefighter with his arms around him? He sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism and he did keep us safe.”‘
Not only was Jeb! wrong on all counts, but the actual reality of how ‘my brother‘ handled events in the spring and summer of 2001 will be the talk of American political news the next few days.
News, of course, headlined/overshadowed by the horror now unfolding in Paris — reports as high as 46 dead and 100 held hostage
Ironic, terror the new normal.
(Illustration: George W introspects himself, found here).
Safe as arrogant ignorance can make.
Terror is that wretched new normal because George W and his boys dismissed those stateless warriors as ‘Euro-lefties,’ not worthy of attention, and allowed al-Qaeda and their ilk to create ‘unsafety.’ Apparently, the Bush Administration repeatedly ignored major warnings from high-level US intelligence folks of an impending terrorist attack during the months prior to September 2001.
Chris Whipple at Politico yesterday, as part of work on the documentary, The Spymasters, set to air on Showtime later this month, uncapped the lead-up to the WTC attack — notable points:
By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.”
“There were real plots being manifested,” Cofer’s former boss, George Tenet, told me in his first interview in eight years.
“The world felt like it was on the edge of eruption. In this time period of June and July, the threat continues to rise. Terrorists were disappearing [as if in hiding, in preparation for an attack]. Camps were closing. Threat reportings on the rise.”
The crisis came to a head on July 10.
The critical meeting that took place that day was first reported by Bob Woodward in 2006. Tenet also wrote about it in general terms in his 2007 memoir At the Center of the Storm.
The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team.
It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.”
“And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.)
Black, a charismatic ex-operative who had helped the French arrest the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, says the Bush team just didn’t get the new threat: “I think they were mentally stuck back eight years [before]. They were used to terrorists being Euro-lefties—they drink champagne by night, blow things up during the day, how bad can this be? And it was a very difficult sell to communicate the urgency to this.”
That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office.
“And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fallen in,’” recounts Black.
“The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet.
All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed.
Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
“I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers.
“It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”
Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.)
“Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.’”
[Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’
Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”
And there was one more chilling warning to come.
At the end of July, Tenet and his deputies gathered in the director’s conference room at CIA headquarters.
“We were just thinking about all of this and trying to figure out how this attack might occur,” he recalls.
“And I’ll never forget this until the day I die. Rich Blee looked at everybody and said, ‘They’re coming here.’ And the silence that followed was deafening. You could feel the oxygen come out of the room. ‘They’re coming here.’”
And they did, about six weeks or so later. Read the whole piece, interesting, though, nationally-depressing shit on the CIA, from al-Qaeda to torture.
The above narrative about the first Bush year is maybe way-worse than even that well-known, ‘Aug. 6, 2001, CIA briefing,’ the one which ended with George W’s quip, ‘“All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.”‘
And trooped-off to play a round of golf.
(Illustration out front found here).