While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.
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.What follows is a summary of several documents that appeared before the August 6th PDB memo all of which warn of the immanence of an attack on US soil, all of which Bush and his senior administration officials (like Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) dismissed as a disinformation campaign designed to obscure the true enemy: Saddam Hussain.
On July 24, Mr. Bush was notified that the attack was still being readied, but that it had been postponed, perhaps by a few months. But the president did not feel the briefings on potential attacks were sufficient, one intelligence official told me, and instead asked for a broader analysis on Al Qaeda, its aspirations and its history. In response, the C.I.A. set to work on the Aug. 6 brief.Distracted by the neocon fetish to finish Daddy's War in Iraq and utterly incompetent to manage the actual threat, George W. Bush and his cronies have left our nation battered and broken, riven by divisions and guided by fear. Our liberties diminished and our faith in government forever damaged, we can only look back with the lens of history and realize that it did not have to be this way.