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Tuesday, April 13

August 2001 Revisted

August 2001 Timeline:

President Bush to Spend Much of His Month-Long Vacation Enjoying Peace and Quiet of His 1600-acre Texas Ranch

by Terry Moran ABC World News Tonight August 3, 2001

ELIZABETH VARGAS, anchor: At the White House today, President Bush gathered his Cabinet to mark what he called "six months of accomplishments." The president starts a month-long vacation tomorrow, the longest of any president since Richard Nixon. ABC's Terry Moran reports now from the White House. President GEORGE W. BUSH: Good afternoon. The vice president and I...

TERRY MORAN reporting: (VO) Mr. Bush described his time off as an escape from the cloistered world of Washington.

Pres. BUSH: I'm headed home to the heartland to listen to the American people and to talk about the values that unite and sustain our country.

MORAN: (VO) The president will be spending most of his time on his 1600-acre ranch near Crawford, Texas, where it's very hot, very dry, and very, very quiet. And that's the way George W. Bush likes it.

Mr. ARI FLEISCHER (White House Press Secretary): He'll do a little fishing on the ranch. I'm sure he'll have friends and family over to the ranch. He'll do a little policy. He'll keep up with events.

MORAN: (VO) Unlike many of his fellow baby boomers, Mr. Bush is no workaholic. Reporters who covered him when he was governor of Texas grew familiar with his laid-back approach.

Mr. WAYNE SLATER (Dallas Morning News): George Bush was religious about wanting to take time off.

MORAN: (VO) In that, Mr. Bush is like many other presidents.

President RONALD REAGAN: (From file footage) Well, there's nothing like being in the saddle all day.

Mr. MICHAEL BESCHLOSS (Historian): There's almost no relationship between the number of hours you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and how good a president you are.

MORAN: (VO) And in the 21st Century, as President Bush has already learned, no president really gets away.

Pres. BUSH: The amazing thing about this job, you know, is the job seems to follow you around.

MORAN: In Texas, the president will get a daily intelligence briefing, and he's planning one or two side trips a week just to keep in the public eye, but mostly, it seems, he'll do what most Americans do on vacation: nothing much. Terry Moran, ABC News, the White House.

August 6, 2001- PDB declassified part of 11 1/2 page briefing that was deemed "historical" by Condoleezza Rice at 9/11 hearings. Title: Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US

The following is thefull text of an Aug. 6, 2001, intelligence briefing for President George W. Bush that outlined al-Qaida plans to strike within the United States.

Released APRIL 7, 2004

Declassified and Approved for Release, 10 April 2004

Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a ...(redacted portion) ... service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an ... (redacted portion) ... service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al-Qa’ida members -- including some who are US citizens --have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa’ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ... (redacted portion) ... service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shaykh” ’Umar ’Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2004

President Bush Speaks to Reporters at Fort Hood, Texas
Remarks by the President to the Travel Pool
Fort Hood, Texas

10:15 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Happy Easter to everybody. It's our honor to have celebrated this holy day with family members whose loved one is in Iraq. Fort Hood has made a mighty contribution to freedom in Iraq and to security for the country. I value my time with the family members and those who sacrifice on behalf of the country.

Today I ask for God's blessings for our troops overseas, may He protect them and may He continue to bless our country.

Q Mr. President, could you tell us, did you see the presidential -- the President's Daily Brief from August of '01 as a warning --

THE PRESIDENT: Did I see it? Of course I saw it; I asked for it.

Q No, no, I'm sorry -- did you see it as a warning of hijackers? And how did you respond to that?

THE PRESIDENT: 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. What I wanted to know was, is there anything specifically going to take place in America that we needed to react to?

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.

Yes, Dave.

Q Just to follow up on that, Mr. President. 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?

THE PRESIDENT: David, look, let me just say it again: 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, like they thought we had faced a threat in other parts of the world. That's what the PDB request was. And had there been actionable intelligence, we would have moved on it.

I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to in the PDB, but if you're referring to the fact that the FBI was investigating things, that's great, that's what we expect the FBI to do.

Q Wasn't that current threat information? That wasn't historical, that was ongoing.

THE PRESIDENT: 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. Of course we would have acted. Any administration would have acted. The previous administration would have acted. That's our job.

Q Are you satisfied, though, that each agency was doing everything it should have been doing?

THE PRESIDENT: 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, a full analysis of what took place. 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. Of course we knew that America was hated by Osama bin Laden. That was obvious. 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.

Okay, thank you all. Happy Easter to everybody. Thank you.

Bush still maintains, "There was nothing in this report to me that said, 'Oh, by the way, we've got intelligence that says something is about to happen in America."

To be continued.....

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