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August 6, 2001: Perle’s Concern About Iraq, North Korea, and Iran Before 9/11 Becomes Axis of Evil Afterward[]

Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board and foreign policy adviser to Bush, is asked about new challenges now that the Cold War is over. He cites three: “We’re concerned about Saddam Hussein, We’re concerned about the North Koreans, about some future Iranian government that may have the weapon they’re now trying so hard to acquire…” [AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 8/6/2001] Note that these three nations are the same three named in Bush’s famous January 2002 “axis of evil” speech (see January 29, 2002). [US PRESIDENT, 2/4/2002] Entity Tags: Richard Perle, North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion Category Tags: Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links, US Dominance

August 6, 2001: Justice Department Reaffirms Wall Policy

Larry D. Thompson. [Source: National Journal] In later testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Attorney General John Ashcroft will complain, “[T]he single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents.” However, on this day, Ashcroft’s Assistant Attorney General, Larry Thompson, writes a memo reaffirming the policy that is later criticized as this “wall.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 12/8/2003; WASHINGTON POST, 4/18/2004] Entity Tags: John Ashcroft, Larry D. Thompson Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

August 6, 2001: Suspicious Trading of Companies Affected by 9/11 May Begin by This Date Insider trading based on advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks may have begun on this date, if not earlier. Investigators later discover a large number of put option purchases (a speculation that the stock will go down) that expire on September 30 at the Chicago Board Options Exchange are bought on this date. If exercised, these options would have led to large profits. One analyst later says, “From what I’m hearing, it’s more than coincidence.” [REUTERS, 9/20/2001] Entity Tags: Chicago Board Options Exchange Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Insider Trading/ Foreknowledge

August 6-September 9, 2001: Mohamed Atta Drives Over 3,000 Miles in Rental Cars

Warrick’s Rent-a-Car. [Source: Corbis] On three occasions Mohamed Atta rents cars from Warrick’s Rent-a-Car in Pompano Beach, Florida. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/15/2001] According to the company’s owner Brad Warrick, “a lot of criminals come here because we’re a little guy, out of the way… We don’t have software in our computer system that checks the background of drivers like the major companies do.” Atta, always accompanied by Marwan Alshehhi, appears like a businessman, yet doesn’t “rent the best car we had, he rented the cheapest, a white Escort, then a blue Chevy Corsair, then back to the Escort.” From August 15-29, he travels 1,915 miles in the Corsair. Another time he tells Warrick he is going up to New York State. He always leaves the cars scrupulously clean after using them. [OBSERVER, 9/16/2001; CORBIN, 2003, PP. 212-213] However, Warrick later discovers a small amount of an unidentified white powder in the trunk of the Escort rented by Atta (see October 29, 2001). When, two days before 9/11, Alshehhi returns the car rented by Atta the final time, he asks that the charge be removed from Atta’s credit card and placed on his. Says Warrick, “If you’re going on a suicide mission, who cares who pays for what?” [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/1/2002] Warrick comments, “I mean, if you’re going on a suicide mission, why not leave the car at the airport?” [KANSAS CITY STAR, 9/18/2001] Atta has his own car, a red Pontiac, but sells this about a week before 9/11. [CNN, 10/26/2001] Entity Tags: Warrick’s Rent-a-Car, Mohamed Atta, Brad Warrick, Marwan Alshehhi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta

August 6, 2001: Bush Receives Briefing Titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’[]

President Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on August 6, 2001. Advisors wait with classified briefings. [Source: White House] President Bush receives a classified presidential daily briefing (PDB) at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that Osama bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The PDB provided to him is entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” The entire briefing focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/15/2002; NEWSWEEK, 5/27/2002] The analysts who drafted the briefing will say that they drafted it on the CIA’s initiative (see July 13, 2004), whereas in 2004 Bush will state that he requested a briefing on the topic due to threats relating to a conference in Genoa, Italy, in July 2001, where Western intelligence agencies believed Osama bin Laden was involved in a plot to crash an airplane into a building to kill Bush and other leaders (see April 13, 2004). The analysts will later explain that they saw it as an opportunity to convey that the threat of an al-Qaeda attack in the US was both current and serious. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 260] The existence of this briefing is kept secret, until it is leaked in May 2002, causing a storm of controversy (see May 15, 2002). While National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will claim the memo is only one and a half pages long, other accounts state it is 11 1/2 pages instead of the usual two or three. [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/15/2002; NEWSWEEK, 5/27/2002; DIE ZEIT (HAMBURG), 10/1/2002] A page and a half of the contents will be released on April 10, 2004; this reportedly is the full content of the briefing. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/10/2004] The briefing, as released, states as follows (note that the spelling of certain words are corrected and links have been added):

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US (see December 1, 1998). Bin Laden implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America” (see May 26, 1998). 
After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a -REDACTED-service (see December 21, 1998). 
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told -REDACTED- service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the US to mount a terrorist strike. 
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself (see December 14, 1999), but that bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaida encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his own US attack (see Late March-Early April 2001 and May 30, 2001). 
Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation. 
Although bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993 (see Late 1993-Late 1994), and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997. 
Al-Qaeda members—including some who are US citizens—have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks (see January 25, 2001). Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens (see September 15, 1998), and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s (see November 1989 and September 10, 1998). 
A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks (see October-November 1998). 
“We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [REDACTED] service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of ‘Blind Sheikh’ Omar Abdul-Rahman and other US-held extremists” (see 1998, December 4, 1998, and May 23, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 223] According to the Washington Post, this information came from a British service. [WASHINGTON POST, 5/18/2002] 
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York (see May 30, 2001). 
The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the US that it considers bin Laden-related (see August 6, 2001). CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives (see May 16-17, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 223] 

In retrospect, the briefing is remarkable for the many warnings that apparently are not included (see for instance, from the summer of 2001 prior to August alone: May 2001, June 2001, June 12, 2001, June 19, 2001, Late Summer 2001, July 2001, July 16, 2001, Late July 2001, Late July 2001, Summer 2001, June 30-July 1, 2001, July 10, 2001, and Early August 2001). According to one account, after the PDB has been given to him, Bush tells the CIA briefer, “You’ve covered your ass now” (see August 6, 2001). Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that after being given the briefing, Bush “[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most of the day fishing.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/25/2002] In 2002 and again in 2004, National Security Adviser Rice will incorrectly claim under oath that the briefing only contained historical information from 1998 and before (see May 16, 2002 and April 8, 2004). Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Islamic Jihad, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles International Airport, Condoleezza Rice, Abu Zubaida, Al-Qaeda, World Trade Center, Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Commission, Ahmed Ressam, Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Key Warnings, Warning Signs, Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, Presidential Level Warnings

August 6, 2001: Bush Tells CIA Regarding Bin Laden Warning, ‘You’ve Covered Your Ass, Now’[]

According to journalist and author Ron Suskind, just after a CIA briefer presents President Bush with the later infamous PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) item entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” (see August 6, 2001), Bush tells the briefer, “You’ve covered your ass, now.” This account is from Suskind’s 2006 book The One Percent Doctrine, which is based largely on anonymous accounts from political insiders. In the book, after describing the presentation of the PDB, Suskind will write: “And, at an eyeball-to-eyeball intelligence briefing during this urgent summer, George W. Bush seems to have made the wrong choice. He looked hard at the panicked CIA briefer. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘You’ve covered your ass, now.’” [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 2; WASHINGTON POST, 6/20/2006] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, Presidential Level Warnings

August 6, 2001: Bush Misled on Number and Extent of FBI’s Bin Laden Investigations The CIA’s Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) given to President Bush on this day (see August 6, 2001) contains the important line, “The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers bin Laden-related.” Bush will state in 2004 that, based on this, “I was satisfied that some of the matters were being looked into.” National Security Adviser Rice will explain that since the FBI had 70 “full-field investigations under way of cells” in the US, “there was no recommendation [coming from the White House] that we do something about” the large number of warnings coming in. However, the number and content of the FBI investigations appears grossly exaggerated. The FBI later will reveal that the investigations are not limited to al-Qaeda and do not focus on al-Qaeda cells. Many were criminal investigations, which typically are not likely to help prevent future terrorist acts. An FBI spokesman will say the FBI does not know how that number got into Bush’s PDB. The 9/11 Commission will later conclude, “The 70 full-field investigations number was a generous calculation that included fund-raising investigations. It also counted each individual connected to an investigation as a separate full-field investigation. Many of these investigations should not have been included, such as the one that related to a dead person, four that concerned people who had been in long-term custody, and eight that had been closed well before August 6, 2001.” [NEWSDAY, 4/10/2004; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4/11/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 262, 535] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, Presidential Level Warnings, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Warning Signs

August 6, 2001: Bush Later Recalls His Reaction to ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’ Memo

Bush being briefed at his ranch on August 6, 2001. [Source: Associated Press] On April 29, 2004, President Bush will testify before the 9/11 Commission, but almost no details of what he said will be publicly released. He testifies with Vice President Cheney, in private, not under oath, is not recorded, and the notes that the commissioners take are censored by the White House (see April 29, 2004). However, the 9/11 Commission will release a one paragraph summary of how Bush claims he responded to the Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001, entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” (see August 6, 2001). The Commission recalls, “The President told us the August 6 report was historical in nature. President Bush said the article told him that al-Qaeda was dangerous, which he said he had known since he had become President. The President said bin Laden had long been talking about his desire to attack America. He recalled some operational data on the FBI, and remembered thinking it was heartening that 70 investigations were under way (see August 6, 2001). As best he could recollect, [National Security Adviser] Rice had mentioned that the Yemenis’ surveillance of a federal building in New York had been looked into in May and June, but there was no actionable intelligence (see May 30, 2001). He did not recall discussing the August 6 report with the Attorney General or whether Rice had done so. He said that if his advisers had told him there was a cell in the United States, they would have moved to take care of it. That never happened.” The 9/11 Commission will conclude that they could find no evidence of any further discussions or actions taken by Bush and his top advisers in response to the briefing (see Between August 6 and September 10, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 260] Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, 9/11 Commission, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB

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