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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

[TEXT:] - PDB [("August 6th, 2001")]


{Note from "gw2" ["--"] brackets added with line spacing for ease
of read/referencing. {'gravity works2' word count: 2121 / pages: 5}


["]For Immediate Release["]
["]Office of the Press Secretary["]
["]April 10, 2004["]
["]Background Briefing Via Conference Call on the President's
PDB of August 6, 2001["]

["]6:12 P.M. EDT["]
["]SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think we have everyone on.
This will be a background briefing. We should be referred to as senior
White House officials. I will say a few things -- address a few opening
issues. Then my colleague and I will take some questions.[" -------------]


["]The document you have is a copy of the document that was prepared
for the President for his August 6th President's Daily Briefing ["PDB"].
I want to talk a little bit about, before we get into the substance,
just a minute about the process of declassification. I think it's
important to highlight how we came to this moment.[" -------------------]

["]This action reflects both the President's full and unprecedented
support for the commission's work in the unique, historic circumstances
of the 9/11 attacks.[" -------------------------------------------------------<^>

["]While the President has the ultimate constitutional authority over
[all of]the classification of information, the Director of Central
Intelligence [C.I.A., now] has statutory responsibility to safeguard
intelligence sources and methods, and is one of the officials to whom
authority to declassify information is delegated by executive order.
The President authorized, and Dr. Rice requested, that the DCI review
this PDB item to determine whether, in his [CIA] judgment,
declassification and release of this item would damage intelligence
sources and methods,and is releasable in light of the relevant
provisions of Executive Order on [----------------------------------- the]
("Classification and Declassification of Information").[" ---------------]

["]The DCI ["CIA"] has advised Dr. Rice in writing that he [then George
Tenet] has made the required determination and has, in fact,
declassified the PDB item. And I believe you have it. The DCI determined
that three specific items of information -- the names of foreign
intelligence or security services -- must be redacted in order to
protect intelligence sources and methods. Those items are replaced with
black on the declassified and released version of the PDB you have.["----]

["]The other redactions on the released version are the original
classification of the document as ("Top Secret.") As the DCI's written
declassification order [now] states, this declassification and release
("shall not be deemed to constitute any precedent concerning any future
declassification or release of any other PDB.")["------------------------------]

["]Before I get to substance, I want to take a moment to go back to how
this all began. We all remember the threat spike in the summer of 2001.
Although the majority of this threat reporting data dealt with threats
overseas, the President asked if any of this information pointed to any
attack on the United States. That's how we got to this date.[" -----------]

["]Let me go through a few key points before I jump into the substance.
I think, first, the release of this PDB should clear up the myth [?]
that's out there that somehow the President was warned about September
11th, or was warned -- or, excuse me -- was briefed on information
related to September 11th. As you see this PDB contains no warning of
the attacks of September 11th. This piece you have before you, this
[P's D. B.], was not prompted by new threat information.[" -----------------]

["]It is a review of material that was already available. And I think
it shows, if you read it closely, it shows that for the threats that
were [Texas] discuss[ions of] this review of material you have, that [-]
threats were being pursued aggressively by the appropriate agencies.[" ]

["]Let me go into the substance of the PDB, and then we'll take your
questions. The August 6, 2001 PDB item that's titled, "bin Laden
Determined To Strike In U.S.," was prepared in response to questions
asked by the President ["Bush"] about the possibility of attacks by
al Qaeda inside the U.S. This article, as I said before, did not warn
of the September 11th attacks. Although the PDB does refer to the
possibility of hijackings, it did not discuss the possible use of
planes as weapons.[" ---------------------------------------------------------]

["]The PDB was based largely on background information about past
terrorist attacks conducted by al Qaeda and general threats, dating
back from the late 1990s. The only recent information concerning
possible current activities in the PDB relate to two incidents -- and
there is no information, as you'll see from the briefing materials you
have and as I will get to in a second -- that there's no information
that either incident was related to the acts of September 11th.[" ----]

["]I know you have a few key questions. I'm going to take a couple now,
before we open up. One, we've been asked how was this -- or, excuse me
-- why was this PDB prepared. Director Tenet has already addressed and
described the genesis of this PDB, itself, in a letter he wrote to the
September 11th Commission, dated March 26, 2004.[" --------------------]
["]This PDB item, as I said before,[-]prepared in response to questions
President Bush asked his PDB briefer. The President had seen previous
[PDB's and] intelligence reports about possible al Qaeda threats to U.S.
targets outside the U.S. And the President had asked whether any of the
information pointed to a possible attack inside our country.[" -----------]

["]When this PDB item was presented to the President on August 6, 2001,
his PDB briefer told him that it was prepared in response to the
President's previous questions. I know I've covered that twice. I
apologize, but I wanted to make sure you got that point.[" ----------------]

["]Now, what information does this PDB item contain? The article advised
the President of what was publicly already well-known, [-] bin Laden had
a desire to attack inside the United States. I repeat, this was already
publicly [excepted]well-known. Bin Laden had stated publicly in 1997
and 1998 that his followers would try to("bring the fighting to America."["]

["]Most of the information in the article that you have was an analysis
of previous terrorist attacks by al Qaeda and a summary and discussion
of general threat reporting, as I've said, that dated back to the late
1990s. And I would note that this draft was prepared by the CIA after
consultation with an FBI analyst.[" -------------------------------------------]

["]Again, we're asked, did this PDB item include any warning of the
September 11th attack, and the answer is, no. The only recent
information concerning possible current activities in the PDB relates
to two incidents, and as I've said before, there is no information that
either incident was related to the 9/11 attacks.[" -----------------------]

["]I want to talk about these two incidents because it's important that
you focus on the facts of each. The first incident involved suspected
recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York, as you read the
PDB.[" ---------------------------------------------------------------------------]

["]This information was based on a report that two Yemeni men had
been seen taking photographs of buildings at Federal Plaza in New York
City. The FBI later interviewed the men and determined that their
conduct was consistent with tourist activity. And the FBI's investigation
identified no link to terrorism. So that's the first incident.[" ---------------]

["]The second incident involved a call made on May 15, 2001, by an
unidentified individual to the U.S. Embassy in the UAE, saying that a
group of bin Laden supporters was in the United States planning attacks
with explosives. The caller did not say where or when the attacks might
occur. And there are a few key points on this that show how aggressively
this call was addressed.[" --------------------------------------------------------]

["]As I said, the call came in on May 17, 2001 -- excuse me, on May 15,
2001. On May 17th, 2001, the NSC's counterterrorism staff convened
what you know as a CSG, the Counterterrorism Security Group. And the
members of this group -- I just want to take a second to remind you --
include the State Department, Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the CIA. And at this
meeting, they reviewed the information that had been provided by the
caller to the embassy.[" --------------------------------------------------------]

["]It's important to note that this information from the caller was also
shared with customs, INS, and the FAA -- cc: the long list of agencies
there.[" -------------------------------------------------------------------------]

["]The PDB article advised the President, as you see, that the CIA and
FBI were investigating this information. And we had no information
either before or after 9/11 that connects the caller's information with
the 9/11 attacks. So both those incidents, I think you see, looking at
the facts, both were being and had been investigated aggressively by
the appropriate agencies in a timely fashion.[" --------------------------]

["]The next question that some have raised, which I just want to take
on -- this PDB item states that al Qaeda members have resided in or
traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a
support structure that could aid attacks. And you'll probably ask if
this was new information and what was being done about it.[" -------]

["]I'll note that the presence of individuals associated or affiliated
with al Qaeda in the U.S. was not new information. This information had
been well-known to the intelligence and law enforcement communities
for a number of years. The FBI was actively investigating individuals
associated or affiliated with al Qaeda in the United States. And this
is a fact I want to point you to that's noted it the PDB article, that
the FBI had been actively investigating these individuals.[" --------------]

["]As you also see -- and it's important you read the PDB closely -- as
you also note in that article, the FBI was conducting approximately
70 full field bin Laden-related investigations.[" ------------------------]

["]Now, the term you'll see in the PDB -- you'll ask, why is the term
("patterns of suspicious activity") used in the PDB and what does it
refer to. The CIA author of the PDB item judged, after consulting an
FBI colleague, that there was suspicious patterns of activity that were
worrisome, even though nothing pointed to a specific operation in a
specific location. And I'll just point that out again -- nothing pointed
to a specific operation in a specific location.[" ----------------------------]

["]In that vein, the author was concerned that one of the East African
bombing defendants had told FBI officers earlier in 2001 that bin Laden
would retaliate if the defendants in the trial were convicted.[" -----------]

["]I'll note that four were convicted -- excuse me, four were convicted in
New York on May 29th -- excuse me, let me just go back and repeat this
point, because it's an important point.[" --------------------------------------]

["]In that vein, the author was concerned that one of the East African
bombing defendants had told FBI officers earlier in 2001 that bin Laden
would retaliate if the defendants in the trial were convicted -- I noted
four were convicted --with a major attack, something the FBI interpreted
to mean possibly in the United States. In addition, the CIA author
understood that there had been possible recent surveillance of federal
buildings in New York, which I discussed earlier.[" --------------------------]

["]Except for the information relating to the possible surveillance of
federal buildings in New York, which was later -- I would note, was
later determined by the FBI to be consistent with tourist-related
activity, the PDB item you have contained no information from FBI
investigations that indicated activities relating to the preparation
or planning for hijackings or other attacks within the United States.["]

["]None of the information relating to the ("patterns of suspicious
activity")section you see was later deemed to be related to the attacks
of September 11th -- important point.[" ------------------------------------]

["]From June through September -- and this is, again, this is an
important point for you to know, because you'll have questions about
what was being done -- from June through September, the FAA and the
FBI issued a number of warnings [-] the possibility of terrorist attacks.["]

["]The FAA warnings, I would note, included specific warnings about the
possibility of a hijacking to free imprisoned al Qaeda members inside
the U.S., and the possibility of attacks in response to law enforcement
actions against al Qaeda members.[" -------------------------------------------]

["]I addressed before the question about why information has been
redacted. And that's just to protect the names of foreign governments
that have provided information to our government...[" --------------------].

_____________________________________________________
[Further noting that most of the above information proved to be misleading, or overstated.
For example, the extent and number of field investigations being done by FBI...CIA...NSA]

{
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