The Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily briefing is the stuff of legend, but we haven't heard so much about the Sept. 21, 2001, PDB. That may change soon. Reporting in the National Journal, Murray Waas says George W. Bush was told in the Sept. 21 PDB that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks of 9/11.
As Richard Clarke recounts in his book, Bush asked his aides on Sept. 12, 2001, "to go back over everything, everything," to see if Saddam Hussein was linked in any way to the attacks. "But, Mr. President," Clarke said, "al-Qaida did this." Clarke says that Bush responded by saying, "I know, I know, but ... see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred."
Waas says that the CIA was able to report back on one shred, but it wasn't the one Bush wanted. The president was told on Sept. 21, Waas says, that "the few credible reports" of contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the group, which he considered a threat to his regime.
Waas says the CIA assessment was distributed to a number of administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, who would go on to suggest repeatedly that the United States had solid evidence of a link between Saddam and al-Qaida.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked to see a copy of the Sept. 21 PDB. So far, Waas says, the White House has refused to provide one.