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MoveOn.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 26, 2004
2:53 PM
CONTACT:  MoveOn.org
Jessica Smith or Trevor FitzGibbon (202) 822-5200
 
Bush Downgraded Bin Laden as a Threat in 2001 - Report Corroborates Richard Clarke’s Testimony
 

WASHINGTON - March 26 - On April 30, 2001, CNN reported that when the new Bush Administration released the government’s 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 House’s 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 Bush’s 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.

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