previously forgotten report from April 2001 (four
months before 9/11) shows that the Bush Administration
officially declared it "a mistake" to focus "so
much energy on Osama bin Laden." The report directly
contradicts the White House's continued assertion
that fighting terrorism was its "top priority"
before the 9/11 attacks (1).
on April 30, 2001, CNN reported that the Bush
Administration's release of the government's annual
terrorism report contained a serious change: "there
was no extensive mention of alleged terrorist
mastermind Osama bin Laden" as there had been
in previous years. When asked why the Administration
had reduced the focus, "a senior Bush State Department
official told CNN the U.S. government made a mistake
in focusing so much energy on bin Laden." (2).
move to downgrade the fight against Al Qaeda before
9/11 was not the only instance where the Administration
ignored repeated warnings that an Al Qaeda attack
was imminent (3). Specifically, the Associated
Press reported in 2002 that "President Bush's
national security leadership met formally nearly
100 times in the months prior to the Sept. 11
attacks yet terrorism was the topic during only
two of those sessions" (4). Meanwhile, Newsweek
has reported that internal government documents
show that the Bush Administration moved to "de-emphasize"
counterterrorism prior to 9/11 (5). When "FBI
officials sought to add hundreds more counterintelligence
agents" to deal with the problem, "they got shot
down" by the White House.
1. Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, 03/22/2004,
2. CNN, 04/30/2001.
3. Bush Was Warned of Hijackings Before 9/11;
Lawmakers Want Public Inquiry, ABC News, 05/16/2002,
4. "Top security advisers met just twice on terrorism
before Sept. 11 attacks", Detroit News, 07/01/2002,
5. Freedom of Information Center, 05/27/2002,
Posted: April 2, 2004