Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Asleep at the Wheel

State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996*

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam "well beyond the Middle East," but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show.

In what would prove a prescient warning, the State Department intelligence analysts said in a top-secret assessment on Mr. bin Laden that summer that "his prolonged stay in Afghanistan - where hundreds of 'Arab mujahedeen' receive terrorist training and key extremist leaders often congregate - could prove more dangerous to U.S. interests in the long run than his three-year liaison with Khartoum," in Sudan.

Bill O'Reilly says that the NY Times is running the story on page A16(!) of their print addition. If true, the Times only gets one and a half cheers, because they did a half-assed job of giving the story the exposure that it deserves. This story is bigger than Cindy Sheehan or Rove/Plame.

The documents were obtained and released by Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption. The link to their article is here.

When taken with the Able Danger revelations, it appears that the intelligence agencies that were trashed by the 9/11 Commission knew more about the terrorist threat than their critics charge, but had their hands tied and/or were ignored by the Clinton administration. Somebody was asleep at the wheel on this one.

*[Note: Registration required for access to this article, or use BugMeNot.]

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