9/11 Memo: Bin Laden Attack in America
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Bush: 'Had I Known, We Would Have Acted'
Monday, April 12, 2004; Page A06
Excerpts from President Bush's remarks to reporters in Fort Hood, Tex.:
Question: Did you see . . . the President's Daily Brief from August of '01 as a warning?
President Bush: Did I see it? Of course I saw it; I asked for it.
Question: No, no, I'm sorry -- did you see it as a warning of hijackers? And how did you respond to that?
Bush: My response was exactly like then as it is today, that I asked for the Central Intelligence Agency to give me an update on any terrorist threats. And the PDB was no indication of a terrorist threat. There was not a time and place of an attack. It said Osama bin Laden had designs on America.
Well, I knew that. . . .
As you might recall, there was some specific threats for overseas that we reacted to. And as the president, I wanted to know whether there was anything, any actionable intelligence. And I looked at the August 6th briefing, I was satisfied that some of the matters were being looked into. But that PDB said nothing about an attack on America. It talked about intentions, about somebody who hated America -- well, we knew that.
Question: There was, in that PDB, specific information about activity that may speak to a larger battle plan, even if it wasn't specific. So I wonder if you could say what specifically was done, and do you think your administration should have done anything more?
Bush: . . . Had I known there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My job is to protect the American people. And I asked the intelligence agency to analyze the data to tell me whether or not we faced a threat internally . . . That's what the PDB request was. . . .
Question: Wasn't that current threat information? That wasn't historical, that was ongoing.
Bush: Right, and had they found something, they would have reported it to me. That's -- we were doing precisely what the American people expects us to do: run down every lead, look at every scintilla of intelligence, and follow up on it. But there was -- again, I can't say it as plainly as this: Had I known, we would have acted. . . .
Question: Are you satisfied, though, that each agency was doing everything it should have been doing?
Bush: Well, that's what the 9/11 commission should look into, and I hope it does. It's an important part of the assignment of the 9/11 commission. And I look forward to their recommendations. . . . I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America -- at a time and a place, an attack. . . . The question was, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what. And you might recall the hijacking that was referred to in the PDB.
It was not a hijacking of an airplane to fly into a building, it was hijacking of airplanes in order to free somebody that was being held as a prisoner in the United States.
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