"I would have moved mountains"


Mark Follman
February 10, 2005 8:16AM (UTC)

Remember President Bush's repeated declaration that he would have "moved mountains" to stop the terrorist attacks against America on Sept. 11th if he'd had any inkling of the plot?

A report from the 9/11 commission, previously undisclosed, indicates that under Bush the F.A.A. put out specific warnings about hijackings in the months before the attacks -- quite a few of them. From the New York Times:

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"In the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations.

"The [9/11] report discloses that the Federal Aviation Administration, despite being focused on risks of hijackings overseas, warned airports in the spring of 2001 that if 'the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable.'

"The Bush administration has blocked the public release of the full, classified version of the report for more than five months, officials said, much to the frustration of former commission members who say it provides a critical understanding of the failures of the civil aviation system. The administration provided both the classified report and a declassified, 120-page version to the National Archives two weeks ago and, even with heavy redactions in some areas, the declassified version provides the firmest evidence to date about the warnings that aviation officials received concerning the threat of an attack on airliners and the failure to take steps to deter it.

"Among other things, the report says that leaders of the F.A.A. received 52 intelligence reports from their security branch that mentioned Mr. Bin Laden or Al Qaeda from April to Sept. 10, 2001. That represented half of all the intelligence summaries in that time."


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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