A New York Times article published Monday raiaes the question of whether the 9/11 attacks could have been avoided had the Bush administration paid closer attention to CIA warnings.
Tuesday marks the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that brought down the twin towers in New York City and hit the Pentagon in Washington, while a fourth airliner crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
The piece mentions certain events that took place in the summer that could have been an indication of the imminent terrorist attacks.
The CIA informed then-President George W. Bush of the potential attacks in the spring of 2001, months before the September attacks. However, that information wasn't met with urgency and some officials believed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden attempts to attack the U.S. weren't real, according to the article.
Others felt Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was more of a threat at the time.
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Blind To The Signs
Currently detained in Guantanamo Bay, Saudi national Mohammed al-Qahtani was reportedly refused entry to the U.S. in August 2001. With his one-way ticket and little cash, officials were suspicious that his intention was to become an illegal immigrant. He was sent back home. Al-Qahtani is suspected of having a role in the 9/11 attacks.
Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen, has been convicted of being a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. He got flight training in the U.S. and was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota, unrelated to the attacks, before they took place.
White House Warnings
Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald, who has read excerpts from briefs given to the White House, wrote that in May 2001, the CIA told the White House that there was "a group presently in the United States" planning a terrorist operation. In June, the administration was briefed that the attacks could be "imminent" but the exact time frame wasn't known.
The White House was encouraged to take the threats seriously, Eichenwald found, because they were not hoaxes or distraction tactics by al Qaeda: "The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Osama Bin Laden," one daily brief read, as reported by the NY Times.
Read the rest of the article on the NY Times' website.