What Did the President Know, and When Did He Lie About Knowing It?

"In a single day, the capital's media climate has been transformed," writes Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz. Reporters are outraged by recent revelations that President Bush received warnings prior to Sepember 11 of possible terrorist hijackings -- warnings which he has previously denied receiving.

  • "Why didn't he level with the American people about what he knew?" asked ABC correspondent Terry Moran in a blunt exchange with White House spokesman Ari Fleisher. "These questions were asked after September 11th of the president, of the vice president, of you, yourself. And no one in the White House said, yes, the information had come in that al Qaeda was planning hijackings."
  • A 1999 report prepared for the National Intelligence Council, an affiliate of the CIA, warned that terrorists associated with bin Laden might crash an airplane into the Pentagon, White House or CIA headquarters.
  • A top-secret briefing presented to President Bush on August 6 carried the title, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."
  • Struck by the revelations, Ron Fournier of the Associated Press asked: "Shouldn't the American public have known these facts before they got on planes in the summer and fall of last year?"
  • "Within hours of the attack we had names of the hijackers and that we needed to focus on flight schools," says one federal investigator assigned to the hijacker detail after Sept. 11. "It was clear how the information quickly flowed down that someone in Washington must have had previous knowledge. They sat on this and they blew it and it's finally coming out."