9/11: What Was Known and When?
Author and journalist Kurt Eichenwald talks to Alan about whether President Bush was deaf to pre-9/11 warnings of an imminent attack.
- Duration 18:04
- Date Sep 13, 2012
Author and journalist Kurt Eichenwald talks to Alan about whether President Bush was deaf to pre-9/11 warnings of an imminent attack.
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Luckily we don't start with you on the phone we have a stuff like going on tonight -- we'll get sore thumbs later on tonight John -- the famous evangelist -- -- tonight.
He has a new book down and also John Bolton joining us a little bit that he is the apparently is advising Romney and he of course was the ambassador -- United Nations dirt -- -- bush.
And considered one of the neo cons anyway -- John Bolton of the program coming up a little bit.
We are starting tonight with -- I can -- whose new book 500 days secrets and lies in the terror wars when I.
Wrote this of about your book on my website and talked about it on the show two nights ago when the New York Times story broke.
I was accused of complaining or politicizing 9/11.
You probably heard some of the same criticism.
He actually is a very funny I heard that I heard that yesterday and then today we're hearing.
Mitt Romney talking about Obama and what's going on in Egypt to -- below its eleven years later -- you wanna say it's being politicized by telling history yeah okay event.
Regularly -- you make print run an amendment running makes you look like -- neutral judge.
And anyway -- -- -- annual.
Among the the thing that caught my attention in your book there's less than it.
So some -- -- -- present as much -- -- than what has been written so far publicly it's only had a couple of days.
But we've heard so much throughout the presidential daily briefing of August 6 where.
There was a tip off that there might be an attack on this country -- you found other daily briefings and -- had been had they even used an aggregate.
They would have been -- proposal that could have been put together what did you find out that we didn't previously know ahead you find that out.
Com well the it's actually to tell the story you kinda have to start.
With the August 6.
With the August 6 presidential daily -- and that's the one.
Everybody's heard of it's -- bin Laden determined to attack US -- and that was released in 2004 under pressure from the 9/11 commission.
And there were lots of daily -- the -- Levin commission wanted to get released but the White House refused they said this one.
And it's a historical document the title maybe it's you.
Really shocking but it's just a historical vacuum right and it lives -- I mean you had to read it but and they are even was that by itself to not given up -- -- -- enough information and and Condoleezza Rice testified and said you know this is a historical document.
If we had if we had information that there really was an attack coming we certainly would've done something.
And then I read the other presidential daily brand if you get a hold.
I'd like I did talent and a half a look at -- some time now and I got a -- that I had to go right by knocking at the the quiet when -- -- or nothing nefarious than we know enough Noonan Noonan president -- this is like this is just you know reporting.
I'm getting getting people to have sources I have -- says.
And but when you go through these other presidential daily breeze.
It is clear that the magnitude of what they were told -- was.
So detailed I mean there is there is a may first -- first -- that says.
Whatever presently in the United States planning a terrorist operation and then -- letter June 22 and daily brief -- that kind of strike should be imminent.
And the intelligence said the -- the frame was flexible so you have a couple of June daily -- that.
There and -- the one where they're talking about you know this is gonna involve mass casualties rose -- one that says it's been delayed it.
A few weeks may be -- but it is not off it is not off track if you have Tony -- the US is not a target of disinformation campaign by Osama bin Laden according to a daily brief.
There was some debate within the administration neo -- saying the CIA was gaming the system right I mean what it what it was.
-- -- The the the folks in the in the Pentagon particularly the number two -- -- Were you what they were seeing all these daily briefs that said there's a strike from -- from bin Laden coming -- he.
Went to the White House and said this is ridiculous that -- is -- nobody.
Bin Laden is merely a front for Saddam Hussein and this whole thing is simply.
But the called false flag operation over you saying look over here and says so we'll take our mind our high.
Also off of Saddam Hussein in the run up to the war with -- -- they try to make inflation between Saddam Hussein.
And Osama bin Laden a secular leader.
In Iraq with a vehement radical.
In wherever he was of the time and and islamists who declared war on Saddam Hussein in 1990 I mean you know it is it was the most ridiculous thing you can imagine.
And here it is you know you're having it foreshadowed in June of 2001 and you had me think about it you're a couple of months away.
From the 9/11 attacks and the CIA counter terrorist center.
Is having to put together briefing saying no really.
This is real -- is not a game being played by bin Laden to make us take our eyes off of Iraq.
And then and then July 24 Mr.
Bush notified that the attack was still being -- it if it postpone maybe a few months -- what you alluded to just a few moments ago.
And the August -- -- There was as I was being prepared apparently this -- -- takitani.
Is believed to have been assigned the role of the 9/11 attack to a that information and -- Not okay all right to -- him but about a time -- -- -- the information with him.
Was with the government had it and -- here.
People people have reacted to this and lots of -- you mentioned -- now you mentioned -- in the book is right and his players but there's also there's also.
Element that's a look that's even more important.
There were two of the 9/11 hijackers.
The the FBI realized in August.
Were you know they were on the no fly list they should have been stopped at the border in the early in the United States so one FBI agent was -- a new FBI agent was assigned the task.
Of finding them and first he finished his other assignment.
And then he got on this -- on any -- working trying to find them and then they.
Got on the planes and help crash them.
-- and people's -- what should have been done what could have been done in Condoleezza Rice.
And -- we never received any information about time and place -- -- which is absurd because if you went in and said Mr.
These individuals are planning to attack on September 11 and these buildings and do it this way the end of that sentence would be and we arrested them yesterday.
The way intelligence works is you get a notification of the magnitude of the threat.
Of the specificity.
Of the threat this was not bin Laden determined to attack US this is.
They are going to attack it's going to be mass casualties there are people in the United States they are planning and operation.
And what you do -- you put the government on high alert me say this could have been prevented.
-- messing it would have been prevent it I'm saying and what I'm saying is there is a history to this.
The last time there was there was intelligence that was this dramatic -- this terrifying.
Was in December of 1999 that's what all the same intelligence guys were there.
And they said it was absolutely comparable you had a major threat developing.
All the evidence was coming in.
And the government went on full high alert the for example the counter terrorist center at the CIA.
Was told there is no such thing as a budget anymore.
Out now they really did have a budget but you know we will later go and spend whatever you need we will go to congress later.
They blew through their budget for January through September during this period in fifteen -- -- And so.
Because the government was on high alert -- -- every one was given this.
We are about to be attacked.
And you had you know customs was on high alert you had.
Overseas embassies on high alert not protect ourselves but look out for -- things.
They were wrapped up.
Planned attacks are attacks in Indonesia they -- attacks in Pakistan there were attacks all over the world.
There was one that was stopped here that was going to be an attack on.
Los Angeles international airport and we picked the guy out -- he's currently imprisoned -- -- they couldn't stop.
The big one well that's because we didn't go on high alert yeah that's because and when people say this thing up -- what could they do it's.
They could've followed the precedent and why didn't.
I -- hold that thought I want of that that's a key question and I -- -- to get take a break -- -- -- that cliffhanger wanna find out why didn't -- And -- comes ambassador John Bolten joining is coming up for just a few minutes we are talking Richard I can -- 500 days secrets and lies in the terror wars.
North Indian Arie Fleischer even funny when he together -- -- you had a little to do with him.
Little to do with him that the story came out you know the the thing coming off a 500 days there is an op Ed yesterday in the New York Times that I wrote that said.
You know I've gotten I've gotten access to the presidential daily briefs.
Here is what they said.
They said a lot more than we knew in the past.
-- and Ari Fleischer tweeted out that it was something along the lines he he equated me with the birth there he said that I was -- 9/11.
You -- here and I'm saying that bush knew united saying they purposely perpetrated 9/11 or purposely -- -- information to let the country be attacked an absurd and then that's and that's the thing was.
I mean I'm sorry one of the things that is that was habitual with people like Ari Fleischer -- you come in with a message they don't like.
And they come out in the attack here you know and they don't deal with your message and so.
I -- tweeted back.
I'm a little -- something about the line of him being diluted -- And we ended up on CNN together and it was you know.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Is a -- you have in the book for example.
It beyond the issues of the wanna wait a minute we left we left in the audience I know that's Preston yeah on the court on a relatively why.
Why if they had this information they were urged to go on high alert and they went on high alert for other perhaps less.
Important issues -- Or or you have let's listen -- potent this you've ever gotten it before 9/11 they never went on -- -- like I'm talking about happen in December right now so why didn't they go on high alert this time for this nomination and all the PDAs dvds.
This there's a level of.
Complexity here that I don't think people quite appreciate it it requires understanding you know when was the GM PG OP and office when they left the White House in in 1992.
National security was all about nation states you know the -- -- war.
China and Iran and Iraq and North Korea.
And that was the entire mindset which was historically decades and decades and decades that's what it's been.
In during the Clinton administration this whole issue of trans national.
Emerged as a strong.
Issue in it it'd been floating around but it wasn't like capitalist.
And transnational means groups of people who -- not attached to any country.
When the bush folks came back and -- spent the last eight years.
Beating the -- about Iraq.
They really -- had paid no attention to the development of these transnational threats.
They got into the White House and look at what they immediately start talking about China -- Russia.
Iraq North Korea -- they went back to.
To where they had left off in which is not an unreasonable thing to do -- this is this is I am not like attacking the administration.
It was a huge shift.
And there was on the part of a number of people in the administration.
Inability or -- They did not believe.
That a group of rag tag guys sitting on a mountain -- in Afghanistan.
Over the last decade killed fifty Americans this.
People don't remember that we're talking and -- -- they didn't have the where with Coleman in the estimate they just they just you know why is this the big threat I mean that would dilute the bomb here in the -- this is not.
This is not on the scale of China but you're certainly not on the -- can't blame them for mistreating -- -- Com.
I'm giving the of their explanation -- it is so but I think the problem comes down to was.
There does have to be a level of humility.
In office and there has to be a something's coming in.
That's different from what we know and the fact that you know they're bringing in Osama bin Laden is -- -- attack in the response from.
The Pentagon is.
Well that's just -- he's really doing it over Iraq and PS we have absolutely nothing to back up what we just said.
You know that's a sign of a problem I think bush was done a huge disservice by the people working for him you don't put the blame on him as much as the people around him.
For what happened in the summer of 2001 now I don't I think I think he was getting a lot of conflicting messages.
I think the CIA I mean this to give you an idea how bad it was.
On July ninth of 2001 there was a meeting in the counter terrorist center in the basement of the CIA headquarters.
And there was discussion about having a mass transfer.
Out of the counter terrorist center one of the guys in this polls scene is in the book.
One of the guys said you know this is gonna come down it's going to be really ugly and we're gonna be the ones held responsible for and -- guy in charge of the meeting.
Said well -- -- we can't get enough qualified people in here we're going to be the half that to be the ones who write this down they weren't talking gee maybe they'll be attacked this that there it's gonna happen.
We are going to be blamed no one's listening to us.
Thought occurred I can well 500 pages few more moments with the and then when John Bolton joins us ambassador -- -- -- some of the other things you have in the book you have -- -- -- Tony Blair are not great with words.
You -- saying that.
The truth -- I have a limited vocabulary I'm not great with words I have to think about what -- -- very carefully but just a self awareness but -- sort of bush.
Comes off as a as a varying.
-- -- this sort of the general impression of his critics I don't think is correct.
In the second page has somebody who it was not a big fan of bush sitting in a briefing thinking well this man is actually really sharp -- and you know bush is is very self aware he was aware that he was uncomfortable early on because.
He felt uncomfortable that he was gonna stumble on his words he knew we did that he knew he'd be belittled by the press he didn't like it.
And by the time he's having that conversation you decided and I think he says something in there about it where it's just like.
-- -- -- You know I'm the president of the united stay at their assumption lob winner -- -- -- -- -- we also -- him when he went when he said -- -- -- with the united nations security council for the necessary.
He had the wrong -- he he lost a script and was at eleven and now they have they they loaded.
There was this huge debate going into it about -- they're gonna be.
No resolution a resolution or two resolutions that they were gonna.
Asked for the UN in in leading up to the war in Iraq right and they decided on one resolution.
But they have multiple versions of the speech and his staff loaded the wrong version into the teleprompter.
As it was going through he sees there's no call for any resolution.
So it starts at living.
But when he -- lives he uses the plural which no one would notice except for like that the diplomats going wait a minute -- after that that.
-- after he said call for resolutions.
Condoleezza Rice started calling allies saying man and he misspoke this is that I'm not -- was this president in the teleprompter.
And -- that there was a funny all of them if you so what that is.
Didn't Reagan who had a traveling teleprompter what about now we'll have a little after a god in my god it worked in the Middle East biblical prophecies fulfilled.
And saying that the confrontation -- willed by god.
This is him in.
I think late 2002 early 2003.
Bush is having a conversation with Jacques Chirac of the president of France trying to persuade him to join in.
On actually the same on the UN resolution to support it which would allow.
For you know the next step towards going toward a military confrontation with a rock.
And he's made every single appeal.
Chirac doesn't buy the intelligence he doesn't think it's very good PS he obviously was right.
And bush is getting to the end point and he finally turns to this biblical thing.
Saying you know you and I are Christians you're Catholic I'm a Methodist -- -- my god are being -- are playing out here.
And Chirac got off the phone -- -- -- anybody know what this man was talking about.
And so they went and they hired somebody of biblical scholar to write a report on god in the god and it was.
It is out of the book of Ezekiel in the book of revelation has to do -- Armageddon.
And Chirac was so horrified that was when it came solid down.
What he said to one of his hoaxes.
He wasn't going to gonna bring France into the war on the basis of an American President Clinton accomplished more in the huddle it's -- 500 days secrets and lies in the terror wars -- I can while the Vanity Fair thank you -- of being here tonight appreciate very much.