|15/04/04||Posting to International Wire of Scoop
Press Release: www.UnansweredQuestions.org Date: Thursday, 15 April 2004
Time: 11:02 am NZT
UQ Wire: An Inkling & The August 6th PDB
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"An Inkling": The President, the August 6th PDB and "Planes as Weapons"
(Washington, D.C.) In his open press conference of April 13, the President was asked about the recently declassified Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) of August 6, 2001 titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S." and what prompted him to ask for the threat assessment.
"By the time a CIA briefer gave President Bush the Aug. 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief headlined ŒBin Laden Determined To Strike in US,' the president had seen a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions. So had Vice President Cheney and Bush's top national security team, according to newly declassified information released yesterday by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks∑In April and May 2001, for example, the intelligence community headlined some of those reports ŒBin Laden planning multiple operations,' ŒBin Laden network's plans advancing' and ŒBin Laden threats are real.'" (Washington Post, 4/14/04)
Clearly, the warnings were urgent. But it was a direct threat on the life of the President that apparently led to the PDB request. President Bush noted: "I asked for the briefing. There had been a lot of threat intelligence from overseas. Part of it had to do with Genoa, that I had to attend."
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice mentioned the Genoa G-8 Summit twice during her testimony before the 9/11 Commission but without offering any details. During today's hearings 9/11 Commissioner Ben-Veniste referred to the Genoa warnings and to air defense preparations based on those warnings, which included restricting air space.
During his press conference the President said that if he had had "an inkling" that people would hijack planes into buildings he would have moved "heaven and earth" to prevent it. However, the public record strongly suggests that the President had far more than inkling. In fact, it was just such a threat that the President says led him to request the August 6th PDB.
Note these press reports: July 2000, US intelligence reports another spike in warnings related to the July 20-22 G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy. The reports include specific threats discovered by the head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service that al-Qaeda will try to kill Bush as he attends the summit. [CNN, 3/02] The reports are taken so seriously that Bush stays overnight on an aircraft carrier offshore, and other world leaders stay on a luxury ship. [CNN, 7/18/01]
Two days before the summit begins, the BBC reports: "The huge force of officers and equipment which has been assembled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world leaders present." [BBC 7/18/01]. July 20-22, 2001, the G8 summit is held in Genoa, Italy. Acting on previous warnings that al-Qaeda would attempt to kill Bush and other leaders. Italy surrounds the summit with antiaircraft guns, keeps fighters in the air, and closes off local airspace to all planes. No attack occurs. US officials at the time stated that the warnings were "unsubstantiated" but after 9/11 claim success in preventing an attack. Distorting information about Genoa keeps the public and the airlines uninformed about the seriousness of the current terrorist threat. (Los Angeles Times 9/27/01).
Another reason high level officials at least should have known of warnings specific to this method of attack ('planes as weapons') is that some were passed on to U.S. intelligence from overseas agencies and heads of state. In June 2001, German intelligence, the BND, warns the CIA and Israel that Middle Eastern terrorists are "planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 14, 2001).
According to Russian press sources, Russian intelligence notified the CIA that 25 terrorist pilots had been specifically training for suicide missions. In August 2001, Russian President Vladimir Putin orders Russian intelligence to warn the U.S. government "in the strongest possible terms" of imminent attacks on airports and government buildings. (MS-NBC interview with Putin, September 15)
Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, probably through the CIA station in Amman. To make doubly sure the message gets through it is passed through an Arab intermediary to a German intelligence agent. The message states that a major attack, code-named The Big Wedding, is planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. "When it became clear that the information was embarrassing to Bush Administration officials and congressmen who at first denied that there had been any such warnings before September 11, senior Jordanian officials backed away from their earlier confirmations." Christian Science Monitor calls the story "confidently authenticated" even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/02].
In today's hearings Ben-Veniste also referred to Operation Amalgam Virgo '02. NORAD leadership had initiated this plan in 2001, to run an exercise to prepare for the use of planes as weapons flown into the Pentagon by suicide. A drill exercise for this possibility was conducted at the Pentagon in October 2001.
Also revealed today, according to "an email obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), members of the U.S. military Special Operations Group, "trained to think like terrorists " and responsible for defending America's airspace were in fact concerned that a terrorist group would 'hijack a commercial airline [sic] (foreign carrier) and fly it into the Pentagon.' Officials at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in April 2001 – five months prior to 9/11 – wanted to develop a response in the event that a terrorist group would use an airliner as a missile to attack the Pentagon." (POGO, (202) 347-1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
This clearly suggests that there was awareness and concern, at least on the part of the President NORAD "Special Operations" planners that planes might be used as weapons here in the United States. "All of this suggests that the known possibility of planes being used as weapons by suicide pilots was not only one possibility among many, but the specific scenario that led President Bush to take special preparations at the Genoa summit in July and to request the PDB in August. This threat also led to extensive exercises and preparations being made by both NORAD and the Pentagon from 1999 up to the day of the attack, which makes the lack of response on 9/11 all the more inexplicable," said Kyle Hence, co-founder of 9/11 CitizensWatch.
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