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Hampshire Review

Michael Hasty
Terrible pilot

Like most Americans, I have a vivid memory of what I was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, and what my first reaction was to the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

I immediately wondered whether this was a terrorist strike by the same people who bombed the WTC in 1993. When the radio reported the second plane hitting a few minutes later, I was convinced it was an attack by Islamic fundamentalists.

Unlike George W. Bush, I hadn't received an intelligence briefing from the Central Intelligence Agency one month before, warning that Osama bin Laden was planning to hijack civilian airliners. Nor was I aware that just six weeks earlier, Italian authorities had closed down the airspace over the city of Genoa, site of the G-8 summit meeting, and set up anti-aircraft batteries in response to warnings of an Al-Qaeda plot to hijack a plane and crash it into the summit, in an attempt to assassinate Bush.

However, by "connecting the dots" of prior acts of terrorism, and knowing who was responsible, it was pretty easy for me to conclude that 9/11 was another, though more spectacular event in a tragic series.

The American public had not been informed of many pre-9/11 warnings. The Bush administration received multiple warnings of a major terrorist strike from British, French, German, Israeli, Russian, Egyptian and Malaysian intelligence agencies.

In addition, both Russian president Vladimir Putin and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek have told interviewers that they personally ordered their diplomats to warn the Bush administration, "in the most serious terms," that America was the imminent target of terrorists. Putin's information included the fact that bin Laden had trained 25 suicide pilots to hijack American airliners.

Last week, veteran FBI agent Coleen Rowley released a letter she had written to Robert Mueller, the FBI director appointed by Bush, challenging Mueller's honesty in his testimony to the joint congressional committee about the "20th hijacker," Zacarias Moussaoui. She alleged that "key personnel" at FBI headquarters had worked to, "almost inexplicably, throw up roadblocks and undermine" field agents' attempt to investigate Moussaoui, raising "ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts" to stop a search warrant from being issued.

These allegations are consistent with a November 2001 BBC report that the FBI was ordered by the Bush White House to curtail its investigation of the bin Laden family; and with a lawsuit recently filed by an FBI agent charging that higher-ups had negligently shut down his investigation of bin Laden; and with the August 2001 resignation of John O'Neill, FBI Deputy Director of Counterterrorism, who told two French authors he had been frustrated that Bush's priority of protecting his oil friends in Saudi Arabia had overruled FBI counterterrorism efforts.

When asked last winter by a kid in a Florida audience to describe his first reaction to the news of what happened in New York on 9/11, Bush replied that his first thought was, "What a terrible pilot."

Is he really that much of a moron?

Or is there a secret he was trying to hide?