Why Wasn't BushCo Urgently Concerned About Terrorism?
Two things seem to be clear now about the Bush administration's attitude toward terrorism before 9/11. One, terrorism was definitely not considered a very important problem. Two, anything that came in through the Clinton administration (including Richard Clarke) was suspect. The Republicans had created their shadow government (which had waited out the 90s in the think tanks or as head of major corporations) and they were waiting to take over the reins as soon as they could. That shadow government had been part of the Republican administrations all the way back to the Nixon days, and they were absolutely convinced that Bill Clinton's admininstration was an aberration and set back the conservative vision for the country. Therefore, they came into office believing that they had nothing to learn from the Clintons or those who had been part of that administration. As Clarke said, it was like they had been preserved in amber and when they came back into the world, nothing had changed for them and their priorities were the same.
But, how could they deny the reality that terrorism was a legitimate and growing problem in the world? During October 2000, one terrorist attack successfully targeted the Cole in the middle East. This should have at least raised eyebrows in the incoming administration. But perhaps the reason they could not hear or see the problem was because Sandy Berger and Richard Clarke both insisted that it was a serious and urgent problem and Bushco, believing that black is white, war is peace, and Democrats are evil, decided the warnings must be wrong. As 2001 went on, how was it possible that Condi Rice didn't start to get worried? Afterall, in July 2001, George W. Bush attended a trade summit in Italy where there were very credible threats that the ship he was staying on could be targeted by airplanes which would be used as bombs.
Mid-July 2001: US intelligence reports another spike in warnings (see June 13, 2001 for a previous warning) related to the July 20-22 G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy (see July 20-22, 2001). The reports include specific threats discovered by the head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service that al-Qaeda will try to kill Bush as he attends the summit. [CNN, 3/02] The reports are taken so seriously that Bush stays overnight on an aircraft carrier offshore, and other world leaders stay on a luxury ship. [CNN, 7/18/01] Two days before the summit begins, the BBC reports: "The huge force of officers and equipment which has been assembled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world leaders present." [BBC, 7/18/01]
Condi's responsibility was to provide critical information to Bush about national security and evidently, she blocked any information she didn't think was important. So when did Condi finally get worried? Why did she have to wait for Bush to ask her to start to address this issue and this only after Tenet provided him updates on the growing risk?