Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post
Posted: November 11th, 2006
On July 10, 2001...then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters. Black laid out the case...showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was...so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately. Tenet called Condoleezza Rice...and said he needed to see her right away. He and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action. Two weeks earlier, he had told Richard A. Clarke: "It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one." But Tenet had been having difficulty getting traction on an immediate bin Laden action plan, in part because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the National Security Agency intercepts and other intelligence. Black emphasized that...the problem was so serious that it required an overall plan and strategy. Rice...was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies. Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. No immediate action meant great risk. The July 10 meeting...went unmentioned in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks. Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn't want to know about. Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks. Black later said, "The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head."