More Psychopathology and Denial

From Woodwards’s new book, in today’s Washington Post:

For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called “findings” that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance — Black called it an “out of cycle” session, beyond Tenet’s regular weekly meeting with Rice — would get her attention. …

Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn’t want to swat at flies.

As they all knew, a coherent plan for covert action against bin Laden was in the pipeline, but it would take some time. In recent closed-door meetings the entire National Security Council apparatus had been considering action against bin Laden, including using a new secret weapon: the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that could fire Hellfire missiles to kill him or his lieutenants. It looked like a possible solution, but there was a raging debate between the CIA and the Pentagon about who would pay for it and who would have authority to shoot.

Besides, Rice seemed focused on other administration priorities, especially the ballistic missile defense system that Bush had campaigned on. She was in a different place.

Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long. “Adults should not have a system like this,” he said later. …

… Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, but she just didn’t get it in time, Tenet thought. He felt that he had done his job and had been very direct about the threat, but that Rice had not moved quickly. He felt she was not organized and did not push people, as he tried to do at the CIA.

Black later said, “The only thing we didn’t do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.”

Editor’s Note: How much effort the Bush administration made in going after Osama bin Laden before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, became an issue last week after former president Bill Clinton accused President Bush’s “neocons” and other Republicans of ignoring bin Laden until the attacks. Rice responded in an interview that “what we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years.”

Right now I need to take a time out and, I don’t know, throw some plates at the wall, or smash pumpkins, or something.

This morning the fine point under discussion is what did the 9/11 Commission and other investigators know about this meeting, and when did they know it? Another paragraph from Woodward:

The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, but it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the starkest warning they had given the White House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about.

In yesterday’s WaPo, Peter Baker wrote,

The July 10 meeting of Rice, Tenet and Black went unmentioned in various investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, and Woodward wrote that Black “felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about.”

Jamie S. Gorelick, a member of the Sept. 11 commission, said she checked with commission staff members who told her investigators were never told about a July 10 meeting. “We didn’t know about the meeting itself,” she said. “I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it.”

White House and State Department officials yesterday confirmed that the July 10 meeting took place, although they took issue with Woodward’s portrayal of its results. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, responding on behalf of Rice, said Tenet and Black had never publicly expressed any frustration with her response.

“This is the first time these thoughts and feelings associated with that meeting have been expressed,” McCormack said. “People are free to revise and extend their remarks, but that is certainly not the story that was told to the 9/11 commission.”

Tenet and Black did not respond to messages yesterday.

Yesterday Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher reported on Peter Baker’s story. This rightie blogger accuses Mitchell of a cover up because he left out the part about “Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about.”

Reading the excerpt and the Peter Baker story together, my impression is that because no one spoke of the July 10 meeting in testimony before the commission, the commissioners overlooked it. There may be nothing remarkable in the paperwork, nothing that calls out Tenet and Black’s concerns, and such paperwork would have been part of several truckloads of paperwork the commissioners were given.

Or, maybe Tenet and Black are exaggerating the significance of the meeting now because they’re trying to cover their own butts for the record.

Or, maybe the commissioners were doing their best to be “fair” to the White House, meaning they didn’t follow up information that made Bush and his team look bad unless it got into public record.

Many things are possible. Certainly there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered about 9/11. I strongly suspect that if we were to wade through all the little details in all the documentation given the 9/11 commission, we would find lots more interesting stuff.

6 thoughts on “More Psychopathology and Denial

  1. All of them are trying to cover their own butts for the record. But if you want a general idea of how they behaved before 9/11, look at how they have behaved since 9/11. They allowed Osama bin Laden to slip through their hands at Tora Bora by refusing to send in Army Rangers. They did not commit troops to the Afghan countryside and allowed a resurgence of the Taliban. They did not adequately secure our ports or chemical facilities, and earned poor or failing grades on preparedness from both the 9/11 Commission and the Council on Global Terrorism. They made an expert on Arabian Horses the head of FEMA, and did not object when Congress turned the Homeland Security budget into a classic pork barrel.

  2. Maha, if you throw plates against the wall or smash pumpkins, please make a video and post it at youtube.
    I get a bit frustrated at times too, but at least I have a sharp machete and many banana plants that need severe pruning where I can play samauri and work out my “issues”. Certainly THERE ARE MANY unanswered questions about 9/11, and one big unanswered question regarding the anthrax attacks, most do not include Bin Laden. I’m thinking Bin Laden may have blessed the 9/11 attacks, but something far more sinister happened thet day.

  3. I’m thinking Bin Laden may have blessed the 9/11 attacks, but something far more sinister happened thet day.

    Alexander Cockburn has written a couple of recent columns on 9/11 for The Nation that I wish weren’t behind a subscription firewall. But here’s a quote from this one for consideration:

    You trip over one fundamental idiocy of the 9/11 conspiracy nuts in the first paragraph of the book by one of their high priests, David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor. “In many respects,” Griffin writes, “the strongest evidence provided by critics of the official account involves the events of 9/11 itself…. In light of standard procedures for dealing with hijacked airplanes…not one of these planes should have reached its target, let alone all three of them.”

    The operative word here is “should.” One central characteristic of the nuts is that they have a devout, albeit preposterous, belief in American efficiency, and hence many of them start with the racist premise that “Arabs in caves” weren’t capable of the mission. They believe that military systems work the way Pentagon press flacks and aerospace salesmen say they should work. They believe that at 8:14 am, when AA Flight 11 switched off its radio and transponder, an FAA flight controller should have called the National Military Command center and NORAD. They believe, citing reverently (this from high priest Griffin) “the US Air Force’s own website,” that an F-15 could have intercepted AA Flight 11 “by 8:24, and certainly no later than 8:30.”

    They appear to have read no military history, which is too bad because if they had they’d know that minutely planned operations–let alone responses to an unprecedented emergency–screw up with monotonous regularity, by reason of stupidity, cowardice, venality and other whims of Providence.

    Stupidity, cowardice, and venality cover most of the bases, IMO.

  4. Martin Ingram aka Ian Hurst is a liar.

    The person who calls himself Martin ingram but is in fact ex Int Corps SSgt Ian Hurst (known as rocky) is a liar of the highest order. His book STEAKNIFE is almost complete fiction, as are his assertions that Martin McGUINNESS was an agent of the state. He is dementedly lying completely about his past service in FRU. He only ever served in sleepy backwaters of the Province and never came face to face with anyone except low level eyes and ears agents. He never ran STEAKNIFE or even met him. In short, his book is a complete fabrication based on god knows what. He endangers the lives of serving and former soldiers as well as civillians with his ridiculous fairy tales. Hopefull he will appear in court at some of the current inquiries and investigations so he can be shown to be the liar he really is.

    And Gordon Kerr “After leaving the FRU, he was promoted to Brigadier and became the military attaché for the British government in Beijing. While he was there, his name was published by the Sunday Herald as a consequence of the investigation into the FRU by the Stevens Inquiry.In February 2003, Kerr was recalled from Beijing for two weeks leave, before being send to Iraq to lead the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, a post which he currently holds.”

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  5. All I can do is hope the entire truth comes out one day.
    I certainly think Arabs are smart to pull of a large attack, one of the most brilliant men I have ever known was an electrical engineer from Baghdad. He held a PHD, and to his credit, quit a high paying job with a U.S.defense contractor in protest for being assigned work on a missile system in the early 70’s.His sons all American citizens were fast approaching military age, and he did not want them sent to VietNam. When I was 17, he told me that wicked old men will always find innocent young men to send to war. Looks like he was right.
    I don’t buy the cave dwelling Arab line, IMO that is something to frighten children and ignorant adults. Whoever pulled off 9/11 was damned lucky, brilliant, or had help from a “higher” power. It was a perfect storm.
    Thanks for answering my comment Maha.

  6. Oops, one omission can certainly alter a sentence. I meant to say “I think Arabs were smart enough to pull off the attacks”, not that they were smart to do so.( better clear that up right now! Yikes.)

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