11 April 2004
Bush Says August 2001 Briefing Did Not Warn of September 11 Attacks
Comments on declassified intelligence briefing, military situation
President Bush says that nothing in the August 6, 2001 Presidential
Daily Briefing (PDB), titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike
U.S.," gave any warning of the terrorist attacks upon the
United States that would take place a month later.
In remarks to the press April 11 following a visit at Ft. Hood,
Texas with the families of military personnel, Bush said: "I
asked for the Central Intelligence Agency to give me an update
on any terrorist threats. And the PDB was no indication of a terrorist
threat. There was not a time and place of an attack."
According to Bush, the PDB said that "Osama bin Laden had
designs on America." He added that "what I wanted to
know was, is there anything specifically going to take place in
America that we needed to react to."
"I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated
there was going to be an attack on America -- at a time and a place,
an attack," he said. "Of course we knew that America
was hated by Osama bin Laden. That was obvious. The question was,
who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what."
Regarding Iraq, Bush said that the intensified violence there
is due to "a few people trying to stop progress toward democracy."
"Fallujah, south of Baghdad, these incidents were basically
thrust upon the innocent Iraqi people by gangs, violent gangs," he
When asked if he intended to send more troops to Iraq, Bush said
that he had spoken to General John Abizaid, the commander-in-charge
of the U.S. Central Command, "twice in the last four or five
days. He knows full well that when he speaks to me that if he needs
additional manpower he can ask for it."
"Members of the Governing Council wanted a chance to move
into Fallujah and see if they could bring some order to the gangs
and violence. And as you can tell, our military is giving them
a chance to do so," he said.
Following is the White House transcript of President Bush's remarks:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2004
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE TRAVEL POOL
Fort Hood, Texas
10:15 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Happy Easter to everybody. It's our honor to have
celebrated this holy day with family members whose loved one is
in Iraq. Fort Hood has made a mighty contribution to freedom in
Iraq and to security for the country. I value my time with the
family members and those who sacrifice on behalf of the country.
Today I ask for God's blessings for our troops overseas, may He
protect them and may He continue to bless our country.
I'll answer a couple of questions. Scott.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. We're coming off a week in which
dozens of American soldiers have died. We've seen images of incredible
violence and chaos. Should Americans brace for weeks, or months
of this? Do you expect it to abate soon? And, also, what's General
Abizaid telling you about how many more troops he'll need, if any?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I've spoken to General Abizaid twice in the
last four or five days. He knows full well that when he speaks
to me that if he needs additional manpower he can ask for it. He
believes, like I believe, that this violence we've seen is part
of a few people trying to stop progress toward democracy. Fallujah,
south of Baghdad, these incidents were basically thrust upon the
innocent Iraqi people by gangs, violent gangs.
And our troops are taking care of business. Their job is to make
Iraq more secure so that a peaceful Iraq can emerge. And they're
doing a great job. And it was a tough week last week, and my prayers
and thoughts are with those who paid the ultimate price for our
security. A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free
Iraq is going to change the world. And it's been tough, and our
troops are -- our troops are performing brilliantly and bravely.
Q: Do you think it's right to add --
THE PRESIDENT: It's hard to tell. I just know this, that we're
plenty tough and we'll remain tough. Now, listen, obviously, we're
open minded to suggestions -- members of the Governing Council
wanted a chance to move into Fallujah and see if they could bring
some order to the gangs and violence. And as you can tell, our
military is giving them a chance to do so. Obviously, I pray every
day there's less casualty.
But I know what we're doing in Iraq is right. It's right for long-term
peace. It's right for the security of our country. And it's hard
work. And today, on bended knee, I thank the good Lord for protecting
those of our troops overseas, and our coalition troops and innocent
Iraqis who suffer at the hands of some of these senseless killings
by people who are trying to shake our will.
Q: Mr. President, could you tell us, did you see the presidential
-- the President's Daily Brief from August of '01 as a warning
THE PRESIDENT: Did I see it? Of course I saw it; I asked for it.
Q: No, no, I'm sorry -- did you see it as a warning of hijackers?
And how did you respond to that?
THE PRESIDENT: My response was exactly like then as it is today,
that I asked for the Central Intelligence Agency to give me an
update on any terrorist threats. And the PDB was no indication
of a terrorist threat. There was not a time and place of an attack.
It said Osama bin Laden had designs on America. Well, I knew that.
What I wanted to know was, is there anything specifically going
to take place in America that we needed to react to?
As you might recall, there was some specific threats for overseas
that we reacted to. And as the President, I wanted to know whether
there was anything, any actionable intelligence. And I looked at
the August 6th briefing, I was satisfied that some of the matters
were being looked into. But that PDB said nothing about an attack
on America. It talked about intentions, about somebody who hated
America -- well, we knew that.
Q: Just to follow up on that, Mr. President. There was, in that
PDB, specific information about activity that may speak to a larger
battle plan, even if it wasn't specific. So I wonder if you could
say what specifically was done, and do you think your administration
should have done anything more?
THE PRESIDENT: David, look, let me just say it again: Had I known
there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved
mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can.
My job is to protect the American people. And I asked the CIA to
analyze the data to tell me whether or not we faced a threat internally,
like they thought we had faced a threat in other parts of the world.
That's what the PDB request was. And had there been actionable
intelligence, we would have moved on it.
I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to in the PDB, but
if you're referring to the fact that the FBI was investigating
things, that's great, that's what we expect the FBI to do.
Q: Wasn't that current threat information? That wasn't historical,
that was ongoing.
THE PRESIDENT: Right, and had they found something, they would
have reported it to me. That's -- we were doing precisely what
the American people expects us to do: run down every lead, look
at every scintilla of intelligence, and follow up on it. But there
was -- again, I can't say it as plainly as this: Had I known, we
would have acted. Of course we would have acted. Any administration
would have acted. The previous administration would have acted.
That's our job.
Q: Are you satisfied, though, that each agency was doing everything
it should have been doing?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's what the 9/11 Commission should look
into, and I hope it does. It's an important part of the assignment
of the 9/11 Commission. And I look forward to their recommendations,
a full analysis of what took place. I am satisfied that I never
saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack
on America -- at a time and a place, an attack. Of course we knew
that America was hated by Osama bin Laden. That was obvious. The
question was, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with
what. And you might recall the hijacking that was referred to in
the PDB. It was not a hijacking of an airplane to fly into a building,
it was hijacking of airplanes in order to free somebody that was
being held as a prisoner in the United States.
Okay, thank you all. Happy Easter to everybody. Thank you.