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Files Suggest Bush Team Took bin Laden Too Lightly

NSA releases documents that don't reflect well on Bush: Jordan Michael Smith
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2012 3:00 PM CDT
Files Suggest Bush Team Took bin Laden Too Lightly
A file photo of Osama bin Laden.   (AP Photo, File)

The NSA has released a trove of CIA documents related to the hunt for Osama bin Laden both before and after 9/11, and Jordan Michael Smith of Salon thinks they amount to an indictment of the Bush administration's failure to take al-Qaeda seriously enough before the attacks. "Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11—but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him."

The CIA thought its drones had spotted bin Laden twice in 2000, but it couldn't do more than collect intelligence at that point. The agency requested permission in December 2000 to expand its counterterror program, which was too late for the outgoing Clinton administration to act. "It wasn’t too late for the Bush administration, though," writes Smith. "It just never did." The documents also shore up the notion that the White House got a "truly remarkable amount of warnings" about an imminent attack but failed to move on them, writes Smith. He notes that CIA chief George Tenet didn't speak to President Bush once in August 2001 because the president was on vacation in Texas. Read the full piece here. (Read more NSA stories.)

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