As I’ve always suspected, heard from officials in the know — a must-read by Kurt Eichenwald in NYT on the Bush administration’s scandalous negligence of the Bin Laden threat because it was obsessed with Saddam:
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
“The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name. Going on for more than a page, the document recited much of the evidence, including an interview that month with a Middle Eastern journalist in which Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack, as well as competitive pressures that the terrorist leader was feeling, given the number of Islamists being recruited for the separatist Russian region of Chechnya.
And the C.I.A. repeated the warnings in the briefs that followed. Operatives connected to Bin Laden, one reported on June 29, expected the planned near-term attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.” Some of the briefs again reminded Mr. Bush that the attack timing was flexible, and that, despite any perceived delay, the planned assault was on track.
Yet, the White House failed to take significant action. Officials at the Counterterrorism Center of the C.I.A. grew apoplectic. On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place, two people who were there told me in interviews. The suggestion was batted down, they said, because there would be no time to train anyone else.
And then people laugh when you suggest Bush should have been impeached. In fact, it’s him and his senior team (Rice, Cheney, Hadley, Rumsfeld etc.) who should be held to account. It’s still not too late, 11 years after the attacks.
(AP) LOS ANGELES — An Israeli filmmaker went into hiding Tuesday after his movie attacking Islam’s prophet Muhammad sparked angry assaults by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya, where one American was killed.
Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.
A military judge in Damascus issued a verdict releasing Syrian Center of Media and Freedom of Expression members Yara Bader, Razan Ghazzawi, Sana’ Zitani, Mayada Al-Khalil, Bassam Al-Ahmad, Juan Farso, and Ayham Ghazzoul for time served.
The judge also dismissed charges against activist Hanadi Zahloul, indicating that she had merely been a visitor at the Center at the time it was stormed and its members were arrested.
It should be noted that on February 16, 2012, the Air Force Intelligence Service stormed the Center’s headquarters, arresting four staff members and several visitors. Three days after the arrests, activists Hanadi Zahloot, Razan Ghazzawi, Sana’ Zitani, Mayada Khalil, and journalist Yara Badr (the wife of journalist Mazan Darwish) were released, only to be arrested again on April 22. They were subsequently transferred to a military court along with staff members Ayham Ghazzool, Juan Farso, and Bassam Al-Ahmad, who were held in Adra Prison for 20 days before they were tried and released.
The aforementioned detainees were charged with inciting demonstrations and illegal possession of leaflets with intent to distribute, in accordance with the provisions of Article 335 of the Peaceful Protest Law of 2011 and Article 148 of the Military Penal Law.
The military judge had issued to the Air Force Intelligence Service a formal request for information regarding the Center’s operating license. The judge had further requested that Mazen Darwish, a journalist, serve as a public witness. However, the case had to be postponed several times due to the Air Force Intelligence Service’s failure to respond to the request until August 8, 2012. The Center had been practicing without a license; the judge therefore decided to overlook the request and proceed with the trial.
The fate of the five detainees, Mazen Darwish, Hassan Gharir, Abdulrahman Hamada, Hani Al-Zetani, and Mansour Al-Omari, is still unknown. Leaked information indicates that blogger Hussein Gharir was transferred to the Air Force Intelligence headquarters at Tahrir Square and that he has started a hunger strike. In addition, it is believed that Mazen Darwish and his colleagues were transferred to the Fourth Division headquarters in Mazzeh