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Stunning Intelligence Failures That Led To 9/11
This site has a horrifying timeline, of notification after notification that the 9/11 attacks were about to occur...all of them ignored. Here are just a few examples, but go to the link and read the whole list, plus links to the complete 9/11 timeline:

June 4, 2001: Illegal Afghans Overheard Discussing New York City Hijacking Attack

At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be Afghans but using Pakistani passports entered the Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. [Miami Herald, 9/20/2001] In late 2000, Cayman and British investigators began a yearlong probe of these men, which will last until 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/2001] They are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City during this period. On this day, they are taken into custody, questioned, and released some time later. This information is forwarded to US intelligence. [Fox News, 5/17/2002] In late August, a letter to a Cayman radio station will allege these same men are agents of bin Laden “organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines.” [Miami Herald, 9/20/2001; Los Angeles Times, 9/20/2001]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

June 13, 2001: Bin Laden Wants to Assassinate Bush with an Explosives-Filled Airplane

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak later claims that Egyptian intelligence discovers a “communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to assassinate President Bush and other G8 heads of state during their summit in Genoa, Italy” on this day. The communiqué specifically mentions this would be done via “an airplane stuffed with explosives.” The US and Italy are sent urgent warnings of this. [New York Times, 9/26/2001] Mubarak will claim that Egyptian intelligence officials informed American intelligence officers between March and May 2001 that an Egyptian agent had penetrated al-Qaeda. Presumably, this explains how Egypt is able to give the US these warnings. [New York Times, 6/4/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, George W. Bush, Hosni Mubarak, Osama bin Laden

Late Summer 2001: Jordan Warns US That Aircraft Will Be Used in Major Attack Inside the US

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.” The Christian Science Monitor will call the story “confidently authenticated” even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/2002; Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/2002]

Entity Tags: Jordan General Intelligence Department, Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency

July 2001: India Warns US of Possible Terror Attacks

India gives the US general intelligence on possible terror attacks; details are not known. US government officials later will confirm that Indian intelligence had information “that two Islamist radicals with ties to Osama bin Laden were discussing an attack on the White House,” but apparently, this particular information is not included in the July general warning and is not be given to the US until two days after 9/11. [Fox News, 5/17/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

July 16, 2001: British Spy Agencies Warn al-Qaeda Is in The Final Stages of Attack in the West

British spy agencies send a report to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other top officials warning that al-Qaeda is in “the final stages” of preparing an attack in the West. The prediction is “based on intelligence gleaned not just from [British intelligence] but also from US agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency,” which cooperate with the British. “The contents of the July 16 warning would have been passed to the Americans, Whitehall sources confirmed.” The report states there is “an acute awareness” that the attack is “a very serious threat.” [London Times, 6/14/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Tony Blair, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency

Late July 2001: Taliban Foreign Minister Tries to Warn US and UN of Huge Attack Inside the US

Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil learns that bin Laden is planning a “huge attack” on targets inside America. The attack is imminent, and will kill thousands. He learns this from Tahir Yildash, leader of the rebel Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is allied with al-Qaeda at the time. Muttawakil sends an emissary to pass this information on to the US consul general, and another US official, “possibly from the intelligence services,” also attends the meeting. The message is not taken very seriously; one source blames this on “warning fatigue” from too many warnings. In addition, the emissary supposedly is from the Foreign Ministry, but did not say the message came from Muttawakil himself. The emissary then takes the message to the Kabul offices of UNSMA, the political wing of the UN. They also fail to take the warning seriously. [Independent, 9/7/2002; Reuters, 9/7/2002]

Entity Tags: Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, Tahir Yildash, al-Qaeda

Late July 2001: Argentina Relays Warning to the US

Argentina’s Jewish community receives warnings of a major attack against the United States, Argentina, or France from “a foreign intelligence source.” The warning is then relayed to the Argentine security authorities. It is agreed to keep the warning secret in order to avoid panic while reinforcing security at Jewish sites in the country. Says a Jewish leader, “It was a concrete warning that an attack of major proportion would take place, and it came from a reliable intelligence source. And I understand the Americans were told about it.” Argentina has a large Jewish community that has been bombed in the past, and has been an area of al-Qaeda activity. [Forward, 5/31/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda

Late July 2001: Egypt Warns CIA of 20 al-Qaeda Operatives in US; Four Training to Fly; CIA Is Not Interested

CBS later reports, in a long story on another topic: “Just days after [Mohamed] Atta return[s] to the US from Spain, Egyptian intelligence in Cairo says it received a report from one of its operatives in Afghanistan that 20 al-Qaeda members had slipped into the US and four of them had received flight training on Cessnas. To the Egyptians, pilots of small planes didn’t sound terribly alarming, but they [pass] on the message to the CIA anyway, fully expecting Washington to request information. The request never [comes].” [CBS News, 10/9/2002] This appears to be just one of several accurate Egyptian warnings from their informants inside al-Qaeda.

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency

via Sploid

Posted by aalkon at August 15, 2006 9:26 AM


The trouble with hindsight is that you can select the bits you want to see, and make things significant that weren't significant with foresight.

It's not clear from this web site just how many messages and warnings were received every day. If you get 10000 messages a day warning about all sorts of attacks then it's reasonable that genuine warnings get overlooked. You can't check them all out. If Osama is doing this right, he'll flood us with warnings.


Posted by: Norman at August 15, 2006 2:56 AM

Yeah, that.

Plus, who *exactly* let us down? Don't just say "the administration", or "those guys." I want a cubical number and a phone extension.

Yes, of course the CIA is incompetent. That's one reason I supported the invasion, because they were agin' it.

But who wants *more* resources dedicated to intelligence and analysis? Keep our privacy was going to be tougher after last week anyway. Whose side are you (or Layne) on?

Posted by: Crid at August 15, 2006 3:06 AM

Well, for one, the side that doesn't fire gays from the military; especially not Arabic speaking gays; not even if they sing in a community choir. Not even if they run half-naked down the street belting show tunes at the top of their lungs. (Of course, this only applies to stereotypical gay men. I don't believe lesbians have this prediliction. I, however, do, and I take it as sad sign that I am merely heterosexual.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 15, 2006 4:50 AM

Oy vey, perhaps I'm gay!

Posted by: Norman at August 15, 2006 8:56 AM

While we are lamenting the huge number of warning signs that airliners were going to be jacked into two towers, a Pentagon and the ground, reconcile this:

The Lemuel Penn case established travel as a basic human right, guaranteed by the Constitution. This means that due process has to be used to prohibit travel. (Yes, American prohibitions of travel to Cuba are un-Constitutional, like hundreds of things today, and I can point you to a person who routinely sails there from Tampa.)

You who are for "freedom of speech", immigration and tolerance, and offended by the idea of "profiling" have a lot to do with this lack of response: without a REAL event, not a theoretical one, no governmental action was possible. A bunch of people actually don't WANT effective defenses. Look at the arguments against securing borders and building interceptor missiles, etc.

Now, before anyone starts yelling at me -- this isn't about me. It's about what a representative democracy with a capitalist political system is allowed to do by its people.

I know that before the planes hit, you were groovin' to your car stereo and wondering what J-Lo was doing.

And it is STILL possible to bring a big airliner down, even if the TSA puts you on the plane naked.

Posted by: Radwaste at August 15, 2006 5:44 PM

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