April 12, 2004

How specific must we be in order to act?

I'm trying to remain calm here, but the August PDB memo everyone is discussing included the following information.

1. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

2. ...FBI information since that time indicates 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.

3. Al-Qa'ida members - including some who are US citizens - have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

4. The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

5. Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

6. Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Ladin implied in US 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.''

I'm not trying to be a smart "bleep," but why do we need exact dates and place names on our intelligence reports to know that we should be trying to find exact dates and place names in order to track terrorist threats. Did I say "place names?" The "World Trade Center" was mentioned specifically by bin Laden as early as 1997. So, the question is, what specific measures might have been taken, and by whom should they have been taken to track terrorist activities before the September 11th tragedy?

I would say that a great many people have a great deal to contribute to an understanding of what might have been done in order to prevent 9/11/2001. We do not need to alienate any of them. Let us allow Chairman Kean and the 9/11 Commission to complete their inquiry.

I shall remain calm.

*image located at “President Bush Names Kean to Chair 9/11 Commission,” Drew University News, http://www.depts.drew.edu/media/news/2002/20021216_kean/ (visited; April 11, 2004, 10:05 P.M. EDT)

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