Drunk From Texas

1999 Report Warned of Suicide Hijack 
US-World News 
Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON (AP)  Exactly two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal report warned the executive branch that Osama bin Laden's terrorists might hijack an airliner and dive bomb it into the Pentagon or other government building. 

``Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House,'' the September 1999 report said. 

The report, entitled the ``Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?,'' described the suicide hijacking as one of several possible retribution attacks al-Qaida might seek for the 1998 U.S. airstrike against bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan. 1999 Report (PDF) 

The report noted that an al-Qaida-linked terrorist first arrested in the Philippines in 1995 and later convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing had suggested such a suicide jetliner mission. 

``Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters,'' author Rex Hudson wrote in a report prepared for the National Intelligence Council and shared with other federal agencies. 

The intelligence council is attached to the CIA and is made up of a dozen senior intelligence officers who assist the U.S. intelligence community in analysis of threats and priorities. 

The report contrasts with Bush administration officials' assertions that none in government had imagined an attack like Sept. 11 before that time. 

``I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile,'' national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Thursday. 

The report was written by the Federal Research Division, an arm of the Library of Congress that provides research for various federal agencies under contracts. 

The report was based solely on open-source information that the federal researchers gathered about the likely threats of terrorists, according to Robert L. Worden, the division's chief he federal research division. 

``This information was out there, certainly to those who study the in-depth subject of terrorism and al-Qaida,'' Worden said. 

``We knew it was an insightful report,'' he said. ``Then after Sept. 11 we said, 'My gosh, that (suicide hijacking) was in there.''' 

Asked about the report at his daily press briefing, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer described it as a psychological, sociological evaluation of terrorism. 

``I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that terrorists think in evil ways,'' he said. 

``It is not a piece of intelligence information suggesting that we had information about a specific plan.'' 

Former CIA Deputy Director John Gannon, who was chairman of the National Intelligence Council when the report was written, said U.S. intelligence long has known a suicide hijacker was a possible threat. 

``If you ask anybody could terrorists convert a plane into a missile, nobody would have ruled that out,'' he said. He called the 1999 report part of a broader effort by his council to identify for U.S. intelligence the full range of attack options for terrorists and U.S. enemies. 

``It became such a rich threat environment that it was almost too much for Congress and the administration to absorb,'' he said. ``They couldn't prioritize what was the most significant threat.'' 

Gannon, who served both Democratic and Republican presidents, said Americans need to make a distinction between knowing the type of vulnerabilities terrorist could exploit and knowing the attacks were imminent. 

He said criticism that President Bush's August briefing should have alerted the administration to the attacks was ``egregiously unfair. The president wasn't given actionable intelligence,'' he said.


5/20/2002 11:42:28 AM | Douglas Kellner]
Bush administration Responsibility for the September 11 Terrorism Attacks

In mid-May 2002, a political hullabaloo erupted when CBS News leaked a
report on May 15 that the CIA briefed George W. Bush about bin Laden network
plans to hijack airplanes on August 6, when he was vacationing in his ranch
in Texas. There was immediately an explosion of controversy, raising
questions, for the first time in a public debate, what the Bush
administration knew about possible terrorist attacks pre-September 11 and
what they had done to prevent them. Also, during May 2002, a Phoenix Arizona
FBI memo from summer 2001 was released that warned of the dangers of Middle
Eastern men going to flight school and gaining skills to hijack planes, and
the dangers of the al Qaeda network carrying out such hijackings. Moreover,
the arrest of Zacarias Moussaouri, the alleged 20th al Qaeda hijacker, in
Minnesota in late August 2001, who had been taking flying lessons and acting
suspiciously, should have raised warning signals.

Over the summer of 2001, there had been reports that there were dangers of
an airplane terrorist attack on the G8 economic summit in Genoa that George
W. Bush attended. There were reportedly so many intelligence reports
circulating in summer 2001 of the dangers of imminent terrorist attacks on
the U.S. that a government official Richard Clarke, charged with
coordinating anti-terrorist responses, warned FBI, aviation, INS, and other
crucial government agencies to be on the highest alert and not to take
vacations during a six week period over the summer. John Ashcroft, U.S.
Attorney General, was ordered to take government jets instead of commercial
airlines and the FAA passed down several alerts to the commercial airlines.

It was also well-known in certain circles that in 1994 the French had foiled
a terrorist airplane attack on the Eiffel Tower, while in 1995 arrests were
made of terrorists who allegedly planned to use an airplane to attack the
CIA headquarters. Philippine police subsequently warned the U.S. that Ramzi
Yousef, who had helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, had schemes
to hijack and blow up a dozen U.S. airliners and was contemplating taking
over and crashing a plane into the CIA headquarters himself.

Furthermore, there had been a whole series of U.S. government reports on the
dangers of terrorism and need for a coordinated response. A 1996 report of a
White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security headed by Al Gore
developed a report that was never acted on (see A 1999 National Intelligence
Council report on Terrorism specifically warned that bin Laden's al Qaeda
network might undertake suicide hijackings against U.S. targets; the report
noted that members of the al Qaeda network had threatened to do this before
and that the U.S. should be alert to such attacks (see "1999 Report Warned
of Suicide Hijack," Associated Press, May 17, 2001). And reports by former
U.S. Senators Gary Hart and Howard Rodman, and by the Bremer National
Commission, recommended consolidating U.S. intelligence on terrorism and
organizing federal responses to prevent and fight domestic terrorist attacks
on the U.S. ( On the Hart-Rudman report, see; for the Bremer National Commission on
Terrorism report, see

Not only did the Bush administration fail to act on warnings of imminent
terrorist attacks and the need to provide systematic government responses to
coordinate information and attempt to prevent and aggressively fight
terrorism, but, shamefully, the Bush administration halted a series of
attempts to fight the bin Laden network that had been begun by the Clinton
administration. Earlier, a wave of revelations came out, ignored completely
in the U.S. media, concerning how high-ranking officials in the Bush
administration had completely neglected threats of terrorist attacks by the
bin Laden network and even curtailed efforts to shut-down the terrorist
organization that had been initiated by the Clinton administration. An
explosive book published in France in mid-November, Bin Laden, la verite
interdite (2001), by Jean Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, claimed
that under the influence of oil companies, the Bush administration initially
blocked ongoing U.S. government investigations of terrorism, while it
bargained with the Taliban over oil rights and pipeline deals and handing
over bin Laden. This evidently led to the resignation of a FBI deputy
director, John O'Neill, who was one of the sources of the story. Brisard and
Guillaume contend that the Bush administration had been a major supporter of
the Taliban until the September 11 events and had blocked investigations of
the bin Laden terror network. Pursuing these leads, the British Independent
reported on October 30: "Secret satellite phone calls between the State
Department and Mullah Mohammed Omar and the presentation of an Afghan carpet
to President George Bush were just part of the diplomatic contacts between
Washington and the Taliban that continued until just days before the attacks
of 11 September." Furthermore, Greg Palast had published an FBI memo that
confirmed that the FBI was given orders to lay off the bin Laden family
during the early months of George W. Bush's rule [See Greg Palast, "FBI and
U.S. Spy Agents Say Bush Spiked bin Laden Probes Before September 11." The
Guardian (Nov. 7, 2001). Palast's article is collected on his home page that
has a lot of other interesting reports on Bush administration activities;

The U.S. media completely ignored these and other reports concerning how the
Bush administration had shut down or undermined operations against the bin
Laden network begun by the Clinton administration. An explosive article by
Michael Hirsch and Michael Isikoff on "What Went Wrong" published in the May
28 Newsweek, however, contained a series of revelations of how the Bush
administration had missed signals of an impending attack and systematically
weakened U.S. defenses against terrorism and the bin Laden network.
According to the Newsweek story, the Clinton administration national
security advisor Sandy Berger had become "'totally preoccupied' with fears
of a domestic terror attack and tried to warn Bush's new national security
advisor Condoleezza Rice of the dangers of a bin Laden attack." But while
Rice ordered a security review "the effort was marginalized and scarcely
mentioned in ensuing months as the administration committed itself to other
priorities, like National Missile Defense (NMD) and Iraq."

Moreover, Newsweek claimed that John Ashcroft, U.S. Attorney General, was
eager to set a new rightwing law and order agenda and was not focused on the
dangers of terrorism, while other Bush administration high officials also
had their ideological agendas to pursue at the expense of protecting the
country against terror attacks. In the Newsweek summary:

It wasn't that Ashcroft and others were unconcerned about these problems, or
about terrorism. But the Bushies had an ideological agenda of their own. At
the Treasury Department, Secretary Paul O'Neill's team wanted to roll back
almost all forms of government intervention, including laws against money
laundering and tax havens of the kind used by terror groups. At the
Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld wanted to revamp the military and push his pet
project, NMD. Rumsfeld vetoed a request to divert $800 million from missile
defense into counterterrorism. The Pentagon chief also seemed uninterested
in a tactic for observing bin Laden left over from the Clinton
administration: the CIA's Predator surveillance plane. Upon leaving office,
the Clintonites left open the possibility of sending the Predator back up
armed with Hellfire missiles, which were tested in February 2001. But
through the spring and summer of 2001, when valuable intelligence could have
been gathered, the Bush administration never launched even an unarmed
Predator. Hill sources say DOD didn't want the CIA treading on its turf.

As these revelations unfolded, Democrats and others called for blue-ribbon
commissions to study intelligence failures that made possible the September
11 terrorist attacks. Republicans, led by Vice-President Dick Cheney,
predictably attacked the patriotism of anyone who ascribed blame to U.S.
policy concerning the September 11 attacks and according to Democratic
Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, Cheney had repeatedly urged him not to
hold hearings on U.S. intelligence and policy failures that led to the
September 11 attacks. Bush administration spokespeople attacked as well
California Senator Dianne Feinstein who retorted in a memo:

I was deeply concerned as to whether our house was in order to prevent a
terrorist attack. My work on the Intelligence Committee and as chair of the
Technology and Terrorism Subcommittee had given me a sense of foreboding for
some time. I had no specific data leading to a possible attack.

In fact, I was so concerned that I contacted Vice President Cheney's office
that same month [i.e. July 2001] to urge that he restructure our
counter-terrorism and homeland defense programs to ensure better
accountability and prevent important intelligence information from slipping
through the cracks.

Despite repeated efforts by myself and staff, the White House did not
address my request. I followed this up last September 2001 before the
attacks and was told by 'Scooter' Libby that it might be another six months
before he would be able to review the material. I told him I did not believe
we had six months to wait.

This is highly shocking and calls attention to the role of Vice President
Dick Cheney in failing to produce an adequate response to the dangers of
terrorism. A year previous, in May 2001, the Bush administration announced
that "Vice-President Dick Cheney is point man for administration. on three
major issues: energy, Global warming, and domestic terrorism."
[See CBS News, "New Terror Task Force. Cheney To Lead at Terrorist Threats
to U.S.," May 8, 2001. A June 30, 2001 CNN report headlined "Cheney is point
man for administration" noting that Cheney would be in charge of task forces
on three major issues: energy, Global warming, and domestic terrorism." We
know that Cheney concentrated on energy issues, to the detriment of paying
attention to terrorism, and there should be an inquiry into what he did and
did not do as head of the Bush administration anti-terrorism task force. A Web-site on May 11 also posted a report that states
that: "Bush asked Vice President Dick Cheney to lead the task force, which
will explore how attacks against U.S. citizens or personnel at home and
overseas may be detected and stopped." To prevent future terror attacks on
the U.S., it would thus be highly important to see exactly what Cheney did
or did not do and address the problems revealed.]

On a May 19, 2002 Meet the Press Cheney acknowledged that he had been
appointed head of a Bush administration task force on terrorism before
September 11, and claimed that he had some meetings on the topic. Yet Cheney
and others in the Bush administration seemed to disregard several major
reports that cited the dangers of terrorist attacks, including congressional
reports by former Senators Gary Hart and Howard Rudman in early 2001 that
had called for a centralization of information on terrorism, but it appeared
that the Bush administration failed to act on these reports. Obviously,
Cheney concentrated on energy issues, to the detriment of paying attention
to terrorism and should thus be held in part responsible for Bush
administration failure to deal with pre-September 11 terrorist threats.

Thus, plans to use airplanes as vehicles of terrorist attack should have
been familiar to the intelligence agencies and to Cheney and the Bush
administration. Furthermore, there were many other reports circulating from
foreign and domestic intelligence services that the U.S. had reason to fear
terrorist attacks from the bin Laden network just previous to the September
11 terror attacks.
[ On Israeli intelligence warning the U.S. of terrorist networks sneaking
into the U.S. for attacks, see "Officials Told of 'Major Assault' Plans,"
Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20, 2001. Carolyn Kay has assembled scores of
warnings from Russian, Israeli, German, U.S. and other intelligence sources
warning that a major domestic terrorist attack was about to unfold against
the U.S., but Cheney, the Bush administration and the National (In)security
Apparatus failed to respond or prepare for the impending attacks (see]

Consequently, serious questions should be raised to the Bush administration
and to the head of their anti-terrorism Task Force Dick Cheney concerning
what they knew and did not know, and what they did and did not do in
response to the reports from domestic and foreign intelligence concerning
the likelihood of al Qaeda airplane hijackings and terrorist attacks on the
U.S. As head of the Bush administration task force on terrorism, Dick Cheney
should be held especially accountable, but so far the media and Democrats
have not raised this issue and Cheney himself is aggressively attacking
anyone who raises such issues as an unpatriotic enemy of state. Obviously,
there was no apparent coordination of information in the Bush administration
and if Cheney was head of the task force that was supposed to deal with
terrorism, it is disgraceful that he did not establish a group to centralize

It therefore appears as I write in May 2002 that top officials of the Bush
administration did little or nothing to protect the U.S. against terror
attacks in the homeland. Domestically, since September 11, the Bush
administration's actions against terrorists in the U.S. have also been
strikingly inept. While terrorist cells have been broken up all over the
world, so far the Bush administration has not arrested one alleged member of
the al Qaeda network post-September 11. Nor have they caught the
perpetrators of the anthrax attacks, although evidence exists that members
of the national security state itself may have produced the high-grade
military anthrax used in the attacks on the media and government. The Bush
administration has repeatedly made warnings of imminent terror attacks,
keeping the country jittery and justifying their unjustifiable foreign and
domestic policies, but they have done little to make the country safer and
have instead exploited the crisis to push through their hardright agenda.

Measures taken by the Clinton administration to thwart international terrorism and bin Laden's network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on. Consider the steps offered by Clinton's 1996 omnibus anti-terror legislation, the pricetag for which stood at $1.097 billion. The following is a partial list of the initiatives offered by the Clinton anti-terrorism bill:

Screen Checked Baggage: $91.1 million

Screen Carry-On Baggage: $37.8 million

Passenger Profiling: $10 million

Screener Training: $5.3 million

Screen Passengers (portals) and Document Scanners: $1 million

Deploying Existing Technology to Inspect International Air Cargo: $31.4

Provide Additional Air/Counterterrorism Security: $26.6 million

Explosives Detection Training: $1.8 million

Augment FAA Security Research: $20 million

Customs Service: Explosives and Radiation Detection Equipment at Ports: $2.2 million

Anti-Terrorism Assistance to Foreign Governments: $2 million

Capacity to Collect and Assemble Explosives Data: $2.1 million

Improve Domestic Intelligence: $38.9 million

Critical Incident Response Teams for Post-Blast Deployment: $7.2 million

Additional Security for Federal Facilities: $6.7 million

Firefighter/Emergency Services Financial Assistance: $2.7 million

Public Building and Museum Security: $7.3 million

Improve Technology to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling: $8 million

Critical Incident Response Facility: $2 million

Counter-Terrorism Fund: $35 million

Explosives Intelligence and Support Systems: $14.2 million

Office of Emergency Preparedness: $5.8 million

    The Clinton administration poured more than a billion dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community, into the protection of critical infrastructure, into massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack, into a reorganization of the intelligence community itself. Within the National Security Council, "threat meetings" were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure.

    Clinton's dire public warnings about the threat posed by terrorism, and the actions taken to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media, which was far more concerned with stained dresses and baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist network, the actions were dismissed by partisans within the media and Congress as scandalous "wag the dog" tactics. The news networks actually broadcast clips of the movie "Wag the Dog" while reporting on his warnings, to accentuate the idea that everything the administration said was contrived fakery.

    In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary conservative majority in virtually every attempt he made to pass legislation that would attack al-Qaeda and terrorism. His 1996 omnibus terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September 11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the right; Senators Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats Clinton spoke of.

    Specifically, Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and financial institutions that al-Qaeda was using for its money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, gutted the portions of Clinton's bill dealing with this matter, calling them "totalitarian."

    In fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. It should also be noted that Gramm's wife, Wendy, sat on the Enron Board of Directors.

    Just before departing office, Clinton managed to make a deal with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to have some twenty nations close tax havens used by al-Qaeda. His term ended before the deal was sealed, and the incoming Bush administration acted immediately to destroy the agreement.

    According to Time magazine, in an article entitled "Banking on Secrecy" published in October of 2001, Bush economic advisors Larry Lindsey and R. Glenn Hubbard were urged by think tanks like the Center for Freedom and Prosperity to opt out of the coalition Clinton had formed. The conservative Heritage Foundation lobbied Bush's Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, to do the same.

    In the end, the lobbyists got what they wanted, and the Bush administration pulled out of the plan. The Time article stated, "Without the world's financial superpower, the biggest effort in years to rid the world's financial system of dirty money was short-circuited."

1999, 123 page report "Assessing the Threat," first annual report to the president and the Congress of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction