"Bush and Goats"
By Megan Maloy
Edited by Jerri Ann Lewis
"Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people." George W. Bush.1
A World Apart
"In the 17-minute period between 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. on September 11, New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had mobilized the largest rescue operation in the City's history. Well over one thousand first responders had been deployed, evacuations had begun, and the critical decision that the fire could not be fought had been made."2
In this time period what was the president doing? He was on his way to Booker Elementary for a photo-op to promote his education policies. It is said that he arrived about 8:55, nine minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Although President Bush's accounts of what happened that day have changed at least seven times since his first declaration, each account indicates that he knew about the first plane attack BEFORE even starting the reading exercises.3 He claimed to have believed it was an accident, but with prior knowledge regarding the fact that bin Laden has been planning attacks utilizing airplanes should have conveyed a different message to our leader.
At 9:03 a.m., the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
"The- Pet- Goat. A- girl- got- a- pet- goat." When our president was informed about the second attack, he continued to perform reading drills with elementary school children. At this point, he realizes that America is under attack but claims to not have wanted to alarm the children, which was why he continued with the drills for several minutes.4
Explain that to Mr. Praimnath and the other thousands of New York City citizens who had no choice but to deal with the disaster of the terrorist attacks. "I dropped the phone and I screamed and I dove under my desk. It was the most ear-shattering sound ever. The plane just crashed into the building. The bottom wing sliced right through the office and it stuck in my office door twenty feet from where I am huddled under my desk."5
It was not until 27 minutes after the second plane hit the World Trade Center that President Bush decided it was time to leave the school.
What went wrong?
The Bush Administration continues to deny any prior knowledge of the terrorist threat regarding the utilization of commercial airliners. This is peculiar because in a US "Al Qaeda" Memo that was written for the president, it was stated that "Nevertheless, FBI information... 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." This report was prepared for the president on August 6, 2001, one month before the attacks.
There are obviously several flaws in the system that creates a significant challenge for our defense agencies, such as the CIA and the FBI, to share crucial information. A good example of this problem is The Phoenix Memo. According to this memo, sent July 2001, "an FBI agent in the Phoenix field office sent a memo to FBI headquarters and to two agents on international terrorism squads in the New York field office advising of the "possibility of a coordinated effort by Usama Bin Ladin" to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation schools. The agent based his theory on the "inordinate number of individuals of investigative interest" attending such schools in Arizona. The agent made four recommendations to FBI headquarters: to compile a list of civil aviation schools, to establish liaison with those schools, to discuss his theories about Bin Ladin with the Intelligence Community, and to seek authority to obtain visa information on persons applying to flight schools. His recommendations were not acted upon prior to September 11. His memo was forwarded to one field office. Managers of the Usama Bin Ladin unit and the Radical Fundamentalist unit at FBI headquarters were addressees, but did not even see the memo until after September 11. No managers at headquarters saw the memo before September 11. The New York field office took no action. It was not shared outside the FBI."7
Those that may want to pacify President Bush and maintain it was a communication failure amongst intelligence agencies and not the fault of the Bush Administration need to realize the role that the Bush Administration plays in regards to the allocation of funds for our nations defenses.
On May 10, 2001, The Justice Department "prepared a budget for fiscal year 2003 that did not increase counterterrorism funding over its pending proposal for fiscal year 2002... Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard told us he made an appeal to Attorney General Ashcroft for further counterterrorism enhancements not included in this budget proposal. On September 10, the Attorney General rejected that appeal."8
The Inspector General's 2003 report stated that prior to 9/11, "the Bureau devoted significantly more special agent resources to traditional law enforcement activities such as white collar crime, organized crime, drug, and violent crime investigations than to domestic and international terrorism issues." According to another external review of the FBI, by 2000 there were twice as many agents devoted to drug enforcement matters as to counterterrorism. On September 11, 2001, only about 1,300 agents, or six percent of the FBI's total personnel, worked on counterterrorism.9
FBI agents received very little formalized training in the counterterrorism discipline. Only three days of the 16-week new agents course were devoted to national security matters, including counterterrorism and counterintelligence, and most subsequent counterterrorism training was received on an ad hoc basis or "on the job."10
The claims that the Bush Administration has always placed counterterrorism as a top priority, even before the attacks of September 11, have been irrefutably contradicted based on the facts discovered by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. This is evident by the lack of organization amongst intelligence agencies in regards to sharing information about possible terrorist threats.
Despite all of the inquiry into what should have been done to foresee the events of September 11th, there still has not been a formal investigation into the response of the President on that fateful day. Could more have been done? If Bush had been more worried about national security than alerting a few children, maybe more lives could have been saved.
1 "President Discusses Response to September 11 Attacks", 05/17/2002.
2 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks- Emergency Preparedness and Response Staff Statement No. 13.
3 An Interesting Day: President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11, By Allan Wood and Paul Thompson, May 9, 2003.
4 An Interesting Day: President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11, By Allan Wood and Paul Thompson, May 9, 2003.
5 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks- Emergency Preparedness and Response Staff Statement No. 13.
6 "National Security Advisor Holds Press Briefing", 05/16/2002.
7 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks- Threats and Responses in 2001, Staff Statement No. 10
8 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks- Law Enforcement, Counterterrorism, and Intelligence Collection in the United States Prior to 9/11, Staff Statement No. 9.
9 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks- Law Enforcement, Counterterrorism, and Intelligence Collection in the United States Prior to 9/11, Staff Statement No. 9.
10 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks- Law Enforcement, Counterterrorism, and Intelligence Collection in the United States Prior to 9/11, Staff Statement No. 9.
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