Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Specific Pre-9/11 Warnings Brushed Off

Another Lost Opportunity, from Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball:
In the spring of 2001, one of the US government's most valuable terror informants gave the FBI a far more alarming account of Al Qaeda plans to attack inside the United States than has ever been publicly disclosed, according to newly available court documents.

Algerian expatriate Ahmed Ressam, whose sentencing for a Millennium-eve plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport was unexpectedly postponed today, told bureau interrogators nearly four years ago that Al Qaeda commander Abu Zubaydah had been discussing plans to smuggle terrorist operatives and explosives into the country for the purpose of launching a strike on US soil ...

Perhaps no better sign of that was the inclusion of some of Ressam's information in the now famous presidential daily briefing (PDB) — entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" - that was presented to President Bush by the CIA on Aug. 6, 2001. ...

[I]t turns out, according to the new court documents, the information from Ressam that was contained in the PDB was watered down and seemed far more bland than what the Algerian terrorist was actually telling the FBI.
Isikoff and Hosenball write that while there "is no indication that Ressam had specific knowledge of the 9/11 attacks themselves," the information he was giving about possible attacks inside the US "didn't get wider circulation within the US government" and did nothing "to shift US intelligence community assumptions that Al Qaeda was fixated on attacking US targets overseas rather than inside the country."

I guess "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" was simply too confusing.

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