Condi: We Were Supposed To Do Something About Bin Laden before 9/11?!

With George Tenet's new book coming out tomorrow, Condoleezza Rice was in full damage-control mode today, appearing on three Sunday talk shows to

ftn-condi.jpg With George Tenet's new book coming out tomorrow, Condoleezza Rice was in full damage-control mode today, appearing on three Sunday talk shows to explain away the former DCI's claim that Rice didn't take seriously his urgent warnings about the al-Qaeda threat in the months before 9/11. When confronted with a clip from tonight's "60 Minutes" where Tenet claims he suggested taking offensive action against UBL in Afghanistan before the attacks, Condi seems surprised by the notion that the Bush administration should have done something about terrorism before 9/11.

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TENET: We need to consider immediate action inside Afghanistan now. We need to move to the offensive.
PELLEY (voice-over): In his book, Tenet says that even though he told Rice an attack on Americans was imminent, she took his request to launch preemptive action in Afghanistan and delegated it to third tier officials.

SCHIEFFER: So, what he is saying is that you just sort of brushed him off. [...] Well, why would he say something like that?

RICE: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know what we were supposed to preemptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps somebody can ask that.

Apparently responding to the Cole bombing -- after it was traced back to bin Laden -- wasn't on the Bush administration's radar. Then again, it seems the Bushies didn't take seriously Tenet's Aug 6 PDB that warned about imminent al-Qaeda attacks either. But can you really blame them? The PDB only warned of potential attacks in the United States (possibly NYC) using hijacked airplanes. That kind of vague intelligence is hard to work with.

(A plea bargain for the Bushies and transcript below the fold...)

I'll tell ya what, Bushies: I'm willing to put this all behind me if you promise to actually go after bin Laden now. Instead of quoting his propaganda in an effort to scare us, and allowing our good friend Musharraf to harbor him, why don't you actually, ya know, capture or kill him like you promised? Just a thought...

Transript via TP :

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS (voice-over): By the summer of 2001, Tenet was alarmed by repeated, specific intelligence warning that an attack was coming. He asked for an immediate meeting to brief then national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.


↓ Story continues below ↓

GEORGE TENET, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Essentially the briefing says there are going to be multiple, spectacular attacks against the United States. We believe these attacks are imminent. Mass casualties are likely.

PELLEY (on camera): You are telling Condoleezza Rice in that meeting, in the White House, in July, that we should take offensive action in Afghanistan now.

TENET: We need…

PELLEY: Before 9/11?

TENET: We need to consider immediate action inside Afghanistan now. We need to move to the offensive.

PELLEY (voice-over): In his book, Tenet says that even though he told Rice an attack on Americans was imminent, she took his request to launch preemptive action in Afghanistan and delegated it to third tier officials.

SCHIEFFER: So, what he is saying is that you just sort of brushed him off.

RICE: Well, it’s very interesting, because that’s not what George told the 9/11 Commission at the time. He said that he felt that we had gotten it. And, in fact, the very next day or the day after, Steve Hadley, hardly a third tier official, sat with the intelligence agencies to try and determine what more we could do.

We were concerned for instance, could we go after Abu Zubaydah, who might have some information. But the idea of launching preemptive strikes into Afghanistan in July of 2001, this is a new fact, and I will have to…

SCHIEFFER: Well, why would he say something like that?
RICE: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know what we were supposed to preemptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps somebody can ask that.

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