Bin Laden determined to strike in the US!

Remember that communique? It was the header on a memo that made its way into the Bush WH, then into a reporter’s hands, where it sped into the imagination of two groups of people. One was the mainstream left, who thought “Aha! See? Bush/Cheney are totally incompetent!” The other was the fringe 9-11 truther clowns who said “Aha! See? Bush/Cheney knew about 9-11 because they and the Saudis/Israelis/Illuminati planned the whole thing!” But despite the damning headlines, all by its lonesome it wasn’t good evidence of either of those back then. But there’s a lesson in it for today:

CNN 10 April 2004 — Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a — — service. An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told – – service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.

The Benghazi case and 9-11 aren’t perfectly parallel of course. But neither mean any negligence or conspiracy on their own. The bin Laden memo was a hearsay source, saying something another dicey person claims bin Laden said in 1997-1998. More importantly, if you’re a terrorism analyst or someone who works with them a daily basis, and you read that Osama bin Laden wanted to kill Americans at home if he could in the months prior to 9-11, your reaction would be “Well, duh!”. Bin Laden had been killing Americans and hitting US targets for years by then. We hit one of his bases in 1998. The idea that he would really want to do it after that was not a revelation.

It was only in retrospect that the headline looked so bad, and it was only in hindsight that that headline might rise above the background noise to look even worse. But the actual text isn’t very consistent with a useful tip-off on the 9-11 attacks. What was any WH supposed to do with any of it? There’s people in the DoD and the NSA, etc., who see that shit every goddamn day, all day long, and there’s no operational details at all about 9-11 that could be acted on in this one. There may be more to it the story than that, or that may be it, but those statements above are completely plausible. Moreover, the idea that Bush or Cheney wanted 9-11 to happen, that they didn’t give a fuck about people in the WTCs or the Pentagon being burned alive, or that they were part of planning it, is fucking insane.

Nevertheless the left, my people if you will, were suspicious. Maybe there was more there, so we tried to find out more and … and so far there hasn’t been more there there. The truther fringe went bananas of course, but since there was no more there, they didn’t splash much crazy juice on the rest of us.

That’s similar to how Benghazi is working so far. The idea that there was at first no info followed rapidly by conflicting info, and then a period in which security and political calculations were made and public info changed over one or two weeks, is completely plausible. It’s going to take more, a lot more, for that to no longer be plausable, for there to be some sort of detatched gross negligance on the part of the WH. And like the bin Laden memo, the notion that Obama or Hillary Clinton knew this was going to happen, didn’t give a shit about the people in danger, allowed it to happen or actively facilitated it, then freaked out afterward and tried to cover it up, is insane.

There are a lot of differences between the memo and Benghazi. But one of the biggest is how truthers are treated by their respective bases and traditional media: you didn’t see democratic lawmakers all over the nation proudly snuggling up to 911 truthers, or mainstram media outlets running their wild accusations along side legit news stories.


  1. unbound says

    To be honest, the Benghazi incident reminds me more of the Whitewater nonsense from the 90s ( Nothing more than pressing the issue over and over again until anything actually pops out that may be damning (essentially a witch hunt) which ultimately resulted in Whitewater being proven as nothing, but that a BJ was a big deal.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the idea that Bush or Cheney wanted 9-11 to happen, that they didn’t give a fuck about people in the WTCs or the Pentagon being burned alive, or that they were part of planning it, is fucking insane.

    Uh, that’s three ideas.

    And the core of the one in the middle – … they didn’t give a fuck about people … – has approximately as much supporting evidence as the heliocentric model of the solar system.

  3. says

    I thnk there’s a big difference between being wrong and being inhuman. The idea that a President doesn’t care a bit about thousands of citizens and DoD people under his or her command, to the point that they don’t care if they burn alive, is an extraordinary claim. Ergo … and if we want to be really cynical about it, the people at risk and many who ultimately died aren’t poor minorities in NOLA, they include some very well to do Wall Street folks, defense contractors, lawmakers, and high ranking conservative officers. People that the Bush WH worked closely with on a regular basis and knew personally in some cases.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    … The idea that a President doesn’t care a bit about thousands of citizens and DoD people under his or her command…

    A minimum of 4,233 DoD personnel died in Iraq for nothing (but lies) during the Shrub years, not to mention many others from allied nations, civilian “contractors” from all over, and (again, at minimum) hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. And, of course, many times that number suffered severe wounds which will cause horrible physical and mental pain for the rest of their lives.

    You can make a very good case that the Busheviks did not “create” 9/11 on evidentiary grounds. Doing so by relying on their compassion or human decency, however, leaves you skating on thin air.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Oops – I meant to include this earlier, but looked in the wrong book:

    … on August 6 [2001], the president’s daily brief began with the headline “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” The warning beneath the headline was a very weak piece of reporting. The freshest intelligence in it dated from 1999.”
    — Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, pg 480

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