Reports in 2001 warned bin Laden planned attack

1.00pm

WASHINGTON - Top United States officials received a series of intelligence reports in the months before the September 11, 2001, attacks that said Osama bin Laden appeared to be preparing a major attack.

A classified intelligence report entitled Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States, made public earlier by the White House, was only one of many so-called threat assessments, a staff statement from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States said on Tuesday.

The statement said "the drumbeat of reporting increased" in April and May 2001, and threat reports reached "an even higher peak of urgency" in June and July.

Following is a list of sample reports provided to top officials between April and July 2001, whose headlines were cited in the commission statement:

-- "Bin Laden planning multiple operations."

-- "Bin Laden public profile may presage attack."

-- "Bin Laden network's plans advancing."

-- "Bin Laden threats are real."

-- "Bin Laden planning high profile attacks."

The commission statement also quoted CIA Director George Tenet as saying "the system was blinking red" at this time, and that by late July 2001, it could not have been any worse.

The statement quoted Tenet as saying President George W Bush and other officials grasped the urgency of what they were being told.

Democrats on the commission have questioned whether the Republican Bush could have done more to stop the attacks, based on warnings he had received, but administration officials have said the information was too vague to know an attack like the suicide hijackings in New York and Washington was coming.

- REUTERS

Herald Feature: September 11

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