WASHINGTON - March 26 - On April 30, 2001, CNN reported that when the new Bush Administration released the governments annual terrorism report, it made a serious change: There was no extensive mention of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, as there had been in previous years.
When asked why the Administration had reduced the focus, a senior Bush State Department official told CNN the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden.
The report directly contradicts the White Houses continuing assertion that fighting terrorism was its top priority before September 11th.
The move to downgrade the fight against Al Qaeda before 9/11, despite repeated warnings that an Al Qaeda attack was imminent, is consistent with other Administration behavior. Specifically, the Associated Press reported in 2002 that President Bushs national security leadership met formally nearly 100 times in the months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, yet terrorism was the topic during only two of those sessions.
Meanwhile, Newsweek reported that internal government documents show that, before 9/11, the Bush Administration moved to de-emphasize counterterrorism. When FBI officials sought to add hundreds more counterintelligence agents to deal with the problem, they got shot down by the White House, the magazine said.
For full citations and links to the cited documents, visit: www.misleader.org.