Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

May 20, 2002

om its post-9/11 sleep

Howard Kurtz characterized the abruptness of the sea-change that has taken place regarding the great mystery of 9/11. "In a single day," he wrote in Friday’s Washington Post, "the capital's media climate has been transformed," going from wide-eyed acceptance of whatever guff government officials had to dish out to relentless disdain for their every utterance:

"Reporters pounded White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice at briefings yesterday, skepticism and even indignation in their voices, as they demanded detailed explanations. It was, in short, far different from the tone of flag-bedecked networks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush, riding a wave of popularity and patriotism, was treated with deference by the media. Indeed, the administration likely never faced a more hostile press corps than yesterday."

It all started on Wednesday night, when CBS News broke the story: pre-9/11, President Bush had been briefed on the possibility of a massive terrorist attack in the US involving airplane hijackings:

"President Bush was told in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might hijack U.S. passenger planes – information which prompted the administration to issue an alert to federal agencies – but not the American public."

In an August 6 intelligence memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," the President had been informed of the threat of airline hijackings planned by Al Qaeda. This admission was in marked contrast to the line handed out by National Security advisor Condolezza Rice, who had earlier indicated that the administration had been primarily focused on threats to overseas American targets. The floodgates were opened, and a series of stunning news reports soon inundated the global media:

It turns out that, two months before the attack, the Phoenix office of the FBI had written a memo warning explicitly about Arab students enrolled at a local flight school – the same one where Hani Hanjour, one of the 9/11 hijackers, had trained. The memo named Bin Laden as the possible locus of a hijacking plot.

And it just so happened that the draft of a plan to go after Al Qaeda had been completed on September 10 – but that the President hadn’t yet seen it before Bin Laden struck first.

As if to underscore the utter haplessness of our leaders, a September 1999 government report was unearthed: written by Rex A. Hudson and prepared under the auspices of the Federal Research Division, the report gave explicit warning of the suicide attack, eerily presaging both the method and the target:

"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House."

It didn’t help matters much for the Bushies that people were remembering John Ashcroft’s decision to stop flying commercial, last summer, in an entirely new light. As a helpful reminder, posted a July 26 CBS News report, "Ashcroft Flying High," which noted that our Attorney General was now traveling exclusively by chartered jet, because:

"’There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines,’ an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it."

Poor Ari Fleischer could hardly fend off Helen "Doubting" Thomas, before he was confronted with ABC correspondent Terry Moran, who demanded to know "Why didn't [Bush] level with the American people about what he knew?" Putting it in more immediate terms, Ron Fournier of the Associated Press asked Ms. Rice:

"Shouldn't the American public have known these facts before they got on planes in the summer and fall of last year?"

Now, in all fairness, the Democrats are circling the President as election season approaches, and there is every indication that this is fast becoming a partisan issue. Yet, in this questioning atmosphere, the Democrats are raising some important points. House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt has it exactly right:

"We need to know what people knew, and when they knew it and what they did about it. I don't know what the facts are."

Gephardt, who exemplifies the troglodyte faction of the Democratic party, is probably not all that familiar with the Internet, and so we can understand if not forgive his ignorance. For the CBS story was hardly the first indication that US officials had some indication that a massive terrorist assault was about to take place on American soil.

In the days following the attack, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was reporting that US and Israeli intelligence had picked up indications via Echelon months in advance, and that the British were also in the loop. And if you really want to go waaaay back in the archives, check out this 1998 item reported by Matt Drudge:

"The Laden scare also is being felt domestically, intelligence sources tell Time they have evidence that bin Laden may be planning his boldest move yet – a strike on Washington or possibly New York City in an eye-for-an-eye retaliation. 'We've hit his headquarters, now he hits ours,' a State [sic] tells Time


That story developed, alright – and it is still developing. So let’s keep googling this subject, and see what we come up with….

Aha! Here’s a hot clue from the September 16 [UK] Telegraph:

"Israeli intelligence officials say that they warned their counterparts in the United States last month that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent….

"The Telegraph has learnt that two senior experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation."

Gee, just in time for the fabled August 6 memo, which the government still, as of this writing [May 18], refuses to make public. What a … coincidence?

Amid the wave of "revisionist" thinking on what happened in the months prior to 9/11, and the new focus on who knew what when, our intrepid congressional investigators are bound to stumble across what I call the story of the century and others dismiss as an unproven conspiracy theory. The story of Israel’s massive spy operation in the US, which seems to break in waves that occur every few months, has broken yet again, this time in Salon – and it has never been more relevant.

Although I was the first to raise the possibility of an Israeli connection to the events of 9/11, the story was soon taken up by others, first of all by Carl Cameron, of Fox News. Cameron’s four-part series on Israel’s underground army of covert agents in the US showed that the Mossad had the methods, the means, and the motive to acquire foreknowledge of the attacks. The Israelis had infiltrated platoons of intelligence agents into the U.S., including explosives and electronic interception experts, under the guise of "art students" selling artwork door-to-door. In the months prior to 9/11, these aspiring "artists" were apparently very busy. Cameron concludes:

"There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are -quote – ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, – quote – ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified.’"

Cameron’s sources told him that this information is "classified" – but enough has already leaked out to give us some perspective, and a sense of the context in which 9/11 occurred. As we draw closer to the 9/11 enigma, attention is now focused on the crucial months prior to the worst terrorist attack in American history – a time when Israel was conducting a massive spy operation in the U.S. In light of recent revelations, including the leaking of crucial government documents, the confluence of these two events begins to make all too much sense….

To begin with, 9/11 was not entirely a "surprise attack," as we were led to believe, but was anticipated – in some detail – by US officials, including the President. If and when the August memo is released in its entirety, the source of that information is bound to be revealed – and this is no doubt one reason for the administration’s resistance to making it public. For the trail leads directly to the Israelis, whose intelligence service was doing what ours should have been doing all along: watching the terrorists in our midst.

Naturally, the Mossad has an alibi. For the Telegraph further indicates that the information they provided wasn’t very helpful:

"’They had no specific information about what was being planned but linked the plot to Osama bin Laden and told the Americans that there were strong grounds for suspecting Iraqi involvement,’ said a senior Israeli security official."

Now that the Iraqi connection has been debunked and discredited, it is time to take the investigation in a new and heretofore unexpected direction. I still can confidently state that, in spite of the new revelations, Cynthia McKinney’s leftoid conspiracy theory – Bush knew, and let 9/11 happen in order to enrich his friends in the Carlyle Group (and, incidentally, start a world war) – is pure hokum. Bush and his subordinates are telling the truth – of course they didn’t know when and where the attack would come. The question is: who was in a position to know? Certainly not the incompetents in Washington. The Israelis, however, came to Washington full of vague warnings – but what did they really know, and how did they come to know it?

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