If anyone wonders why Kurt Eichenwald would be motivated to write an opinion piece about what GW Bush knew prior to 9-11-2001, look to his new book i.e., he wrote one, and wants to sell it.
Here is what you will learn if you jump to Eichenwald's op-ed conclusion:
We may never know if Bush could have prevented 9-11 if only he had reacted urgently to a bunch of classified Presidential Daily Briefs (PDB's) of which Eichenwald has seen excepts.
But, in the service of honesty, here is what you will learn by way of paraphrase from each of Eichenwald's op-ed paragraphs, one by one. So, without further ado, remember, this is a paraphrase of Eichenwald's breathless account. (don't mind my occasional comment.) Go ahead, read it for yourself, see if there is anything more to it than this:
1. On Aug. 6, 2001, GWB got a PDB entitled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."
2. On April 10, 2004 the White House declassifies the PDB. The Bush admin says it's a history lesson on al Qaeda, not a warning of approaching attacks. Some critics say the WH is being absurd, but a close reading shows the WH does have a point.
in other words, the critics are being absurd
3. BUT...if you also read the PDB's before Aug. 6, holy smokes, the admin's reaction to what Bush was told reflects much more negligence than you've been told. When you get down to it, the Aug. 6 PDB, the one that provoked so much controversy, the one with the scary headline...that's nothing compared to what was in those prior ones.
Holy mackerel, wait 'till you hear this. You will be shocked. Here it comes:
4. By May 1, the CIA told GWB that there was a report of a some group in the U.S. who were planning a terrorist operation. On June 22, the PDB tells the president that an al Qaeda strike could be "imminent", though the timing is flexible.
who? don't know. when? imminent, but flexible. You mean, maybe not imminent? well, flexible.
5. An intel official and a Bush official said that newly empowered neocons at the Pentagon told the WH "that the CIA had been fooled", that Bin Laden was trying to distract the WH away from Saddam who neocons thought was a greater threat. The intel people said, no way Saddam and al Qaeda would cooperate, citing religious differences. The neocons win their point.
6. The CIA responds: nope, it's not al Qaeda disinformation, it's real. They are going to attack sometime.
7. More PDBs follow. It's June 29. They repeat the warnings. An attack with "dramatic consequences", lots of casualties. When will it be? "soon", although it has been delayed, and the timing is flexible. But it will happen.
When? Soon, but delayed. And flexible. But when? Soon.
8. And yet the WH didn't do much at all with this soon, delayed, flexible info. The CIA's Counter Intelligence Center was really pissed off, and a bunch of staff wanted to transfer out so they wouldn't be blamed when the US was attacked. Didn't happen because they couldn't train replacements fast enough.
9. On July 9, a brutal extremist linked to al Qaeda told his followers something big was coming down. 48 hours later, the WH was told about this warning.
big. when? don't know.
10. On July 24, GWB is told the attack is still on, but was postponed, maybe by a few months. GWB doesn't think there's enough info to do anything about it, so he tells them to go back and report on al Qaeda's history and ambitions. The CIA starts working it up. That becomes the Aug. 6 PDB.
the brief contains only historical information with no actionable intelligence
11. After 9/11, Bush officials say they didn't ignore anything, but didn't get enough info from CIA to do anything about it. That's true, Eichenwald says, but the point is that if the government was on high alert, things might have happened that might have exposed the plans.
woulda coulda shoulda that all hangs on the shoulders of the U.S. intel system failures.
And there you have it. Nothing much.