The administration claims that terrorists crashing planes into buildings was not foreseeable. Is that accurate?
How foreseeable was 9/11?
In 1994, the government received information that international terrorists “had seriously considered the use of airplanes as a means of carrying out terrorist attacks” (see also this article).
According to the New York Times, “The F.B.I. had been aware for several years that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network were training pilots in the United States ….“
In 1998, U.S. officials received reports concerning a “Bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington, areas.” Officials received reports that al Qaeda was trying to establish an operative cell in the United States and that bin Laden was attempting to recruit a group of five to seven young men from the United States to travel to the Middle East for training in conjunction with his plans to strike U.S. domestic targets.
Indeed, the report concluded that “a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane . . . into the World Trade Center“.
A 1999 report for the National Intelligence Council warned that fanatics loyal to bin Laden might try to hijack a jetliner and fly it into the Pentagon.
There were extraordinarily high terrorist attack threat levels in the summer of 2001, involving threats of attack within the U.S., and the U.S. government knew there were Al-Qaeda cells within the U.S. (or watch the video here).
In July 2001, a briefing prepared for senior government officials warned of “a significant terrorist attack against U.S. and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties … (it) will occur with little or no warning.”.
Shortly afterwards, the Attorney General stopped flying commercial aircraft within the United States based on a threat assessment by the FBI.
FBI agents recommended to FBI headquarters, in July 2001, an urgent nationwide review of flight schools regarding terrorism, and mentioned Bin Laden by name.
2 months before 9/11, intelligence services believed that Bin Laden intended to crash airplanes into the G8 Summit in order to kill President Bush and other world leaders. Condoleezza Rice was very focused on this threat to President Bush.
A pre-9/11 National Intelligence Estimate was entitled “Islamic Extremists Learn to Fly”, and was apparently about Islamic people taking classes at U.S. flight schools.
The Federal Aviation Administration “had indeed considered the possibility that terrorists would hijack a plane and use it as a weapon,” and in 2001 it distributed a CD-ROM presentation to airlines and airports that cited the possibility of a suicide hijacking.
President Bush was told in August 2001 that supporters of Bin Laden planned an attack within the U.S. with explosives and that they wanted to hijack airplanes.
A month before 9/11, the CIA sent a message to the Federal Aviation Administration warning of a possible hijacking “or an act of sabotage against a commercial airliner”.
“Israeli intelligence officials say that they warned their counterparts in the United States [in August 2001] that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent.”
The August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief was entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”.
According to National Public Radio, the former CIA Director had warned congress shortly before 9/11 “that there could be an attack, an imminent attack, on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected”.
U.S. intelligence officials informed President Bush weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks that Bin Laden’s terrorist network might try to hijack American planes, and that information prompted administration officials to issue a private warning to transportation officials and national security agencies.
An employee who worked in the Twin Towers stated “How could they let this happen? They knew this building was a target. Over the past few weeks we’d been evacuated a number of times, which is unusual. I think they had an inkling something was going on”
And a guard who worked in the world trade center stated that “officials had recently taken steps to secure the towers against aerial attacks”
On September 6, 2001, Condoleezza Rice was warned that a terrorist attack inside the United States was imminent
Also on September 6th, author Salman Rushdie was banned by US authorities from taking internal US flights; the FAA told his publisher the reason was that it had “intelligence of something about to happen”
A former FBI translator – who the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, several senators (free subscription required), and a coalition of prominent conservative and liberal groups have claimed is credible – says that the government was provided with information about the planned attacks, including the fact that the attacks would be carried out using airplanes (“I saw papers that show US knew al-Qaeda would attack cities with airplanes”), and some information about date ranges and targets.
The National Security Agency and the FBI were both independently listening in on the phone calls between the supposed mastermind of the attacks and the lead hijacker. Indeed, the FBI built its own antenna in Madagascar specifically to listen in on the mastermind’s phone calls. The day before 9/11, the mastermind told the lead hijacker “tomorrow is zero hour” and gave final approval for the attacks. The NSA intercepted the message that day and the FBI was likely also monitoring the mastermind’s phone calls. (The NSA claims that it did not translate the intercept until September 12th; however, the above-mentioned FBI translator said that she was frequently ordered to falsify dates of translations regarding 9/11).
Members of the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency claim that they identified Mohammed Atta and most of the other hijackers as being connected with Al Qaeda a year before 9/11.
Newsweek stated “On Sept. 10, NEWSWEEK has learned, a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns” (pay-per-view; cached version of article here)
9/11 family member and “Jersey Girl” Patty Casazza was told by whistleblowers that — before 9/11 — the government knew the exact day, the type of attack, and the targets.
The Military Had Drilled for Attacks Such as 9/11
Indeed, the military had actually drilled for aerial attacks with planes.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the military air defense agency responsible for protecting the U.S. mainland, had run drills for several years of planes being used as weapons against the World Trade Center and other U.S. high-profile buildings, and “numerous types of civilian and military aircraft were used as mock hijacked aircraft”. In other words, drills using REAL AIRCRAFT simulating terrorist attacks crashing jets into buildings, including the twin towers, were run.
And the military had conducted numerous drills of planes crashing into the Pentagon. For example, see this official military website showing a military drill conducted in 2000 using miniatures; this article concerning a May 2001 exercise of a plane crashing into the Pentagon (see also this article and this one); and this article about yet another drill of a plane hitting the Pentagon from August 2001.
The military had also run war games involving multiple, simultaneous hijackings (first paragraph), so this aspect of 9/11 was not as overwhelming as we have been led to believe.
See this short excerpt of a Peter Jennings newscast on 9/11 (excuse the music and subtitles).
There are literally hundreds of further examples of facts which tend to show that 9/11 was foreseeable (see this timeline for additional information).
But What Do High-Level Officials Say?
In addition to the former CIA director and other credible witnesses discussed above, many high-level officials have gone on record raising questions concerning the foreseeability of the attacks:
Former 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland said “As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted“ (he also said, when he resigned from the 9/11 Commission: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”.)
The head of the Department of Homeland Security (then a top justice department terrorism prosecutor) said “As of Sept. 10th, each of us knew everything we needed to know to tell us there was a possibility of what happened on Sept. 11th . . . We knew the World Trade Center was a target . . . We knew an airplane could be used as a weapon.”
A current U.S. Senator said “The two questions that the congress will not ask . . . is why did 9/11 happen on George Bush’s watch when he had clear warnings that it was going to happen? Why did they allow it to happen?”
Then-ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a member of the joint intelligence committee that investigated 9/11 stated “They don’t have any excuse because the information was in their lap, and they didn’t do anything to prevent it”
Then-current chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was “not surprised there was an attack ….”
Former White House counsel John Dean stated “It seems very probable that those in the White House knew much more than they have admitted . . . After pulling together the information in the 9/11 Report, it is understandable why Bush is stonewalling. It is not very difficult to deduce what the president knew, and when he knew it [Dean is echoing the questions asked by Watergate prosecutors]. And the portrait that results is devastating.”
A British member of Parliament said “It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks . . . . It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with airplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that “al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House.’”
A 24-year Air Force veteran and former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Defense Language Institute said “Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism”.
U.S. General, Commanding General of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart (General Wesley Clark) said “We’ve never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. I’ve seen that for a long time”.
Former Federal Prosecutor, Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Department of Justice under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, and currently a widely-sought media commentator on terrorism and intelligence services (John Loftus) says “The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defense of incompetence”.
The Group Director on matters of national security in the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that President Bush did not respond to unprecedented warnings of the 9/11 disaster and conducted a massive cover-up instead of accepting responsibility.