It was on MSNBC.
Just for a trip down memory lane. We are all familiar with the left throwing up the August 6th, 2001 PDB, but did you know?
“The following is the text of an item from the Presidential Daily Brief received by President William J. Clinton on December 4, 1998. Redacted material is indicated in brackets.
SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks
1. Reporting [-] suggests Bin Ladin and his allies are preparing for attacks in the US, including an aircraft hijacking to obtain the release of Shaykh ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, and Muhammad Sadiq ‘Awda. One source quoted a senior member of the Gama’at al-Islamiyya (IG) saying that, as of late October, the IG had completed planning for an operation in the US on behalf of Bin Ladin, but that the operation was on hold.A senior Bin Ladin operative from Saudi Arabia was to visit IG counterparts in the US soon thereafter to discuss options-perhaps including an aircraft hijacking.
IG leader Islambuli in late September was planning to hijack a US airliner during the “next couple of weeks” to free ‘Abd al-Rahman and the other prisoners, according to what may be a different source.
The same source late last month said that Bin Ladin might implement plans to hijack US aircraft before the beginning of Ramadan on 20 December and that two members of the operational team had evaded security checks during a recent trial run at an unidentified New York airport. [-]
2. Some members of the Bin Ladin network have received hijack training, according to various sources, but no group directly tied to Bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida organization has ever carried out an aircraft hijacking.Bin Ladin could be weighing other types of operations against US aircraft.Accord-ing to [-] the IG in October obtained SA-7 missiles and intended to move them from Yemen into Saudi Arabia to shoot down an Egyptian plane or, if unsuccessful, a US military or civilian aircraft.
A [-] in October told us that unspecified “extremist elements” in Yemen had acquired SA-7s. [-]
3. [-] indicate the Bin Ladin organization or its allies are moving closer to implementing anti-US attacks at unspecified locations, but we do not know whether they are related to attacks on aircraft. A Bin Ladin associate in Sudan late last month told a colleague in Kandahar that he had shipped a group of containers to Afghanistan. Bin Ladin associates also talked about the movement of containers to Afghanistan before the East Africa bombings.
In other [-] Bin Ladin associates last month discussed picking up a package in Malaysia. One told his colleague in Malaysia that “they” were in the “ninth month [of pregnancy].”
An alleged Bin Ladin supporter in Yemen late last month remarked to his mother that he planned to work in “commerce” from abroad and said his impending “marriage,” which would take place soon, would be a “surprise.”"Commerce” and “marriage” often are codewords for terrorist attacks. [-]
So what did this mean. Well from the 911 Commission Report we know that there was a small effort to tighten security at airport, especially JFK and others. But the report goes on to tell us what happened in the days afterward.
“The intelligence community could learn little about the source of the information. Later in December and again in early January 1999, more information arrived from the same source, reporting that the planned hijacking had been stalled because two of the operatives, who were sketchily described, had been arrested near Washington, D.C. or New York. After investigation, the FBI could find no information to support the hijack threat; nor could it verify any arrests like those described in the report. The FAA alert at the New York area airports ended on January 31, 1999.113
On December 17, the day after the United States and Britain began their Desert Fox bombing campaign against Iraq, the Small Group convened to discuss intelligence suggesting imminent Bin Ladin attacks on the U.S. embassies in Qatar and Ethiopia. The next day, Director Tenet sent a memo to the President, the cabinet, and senior officials throughout the government describing reports that Bin Ladin planned to attack U.S. targets very soon, possibly over the next few days, before Ramadan celebrations began. Tenet said he was “greatly concerned.”114
With alarms sounding, members of the Small Group considered ideas about how to respond to or prevent such attacks. Generals Shelton and Zinni came up with military options. Special Operations Forces were later told that they might be ordered to attempt very high-risk in-and-out raids either in Khartoum, to capture a senior Bin Ladin operative known as Abu Hafs the Mauritanian-who appeared to be engineering some of the plots-or in Kandahar, to capture Bin Ladin himself. Shelton told us that such operations are not risk free, invoking the memory of the 1993 “Black Hawk down” fiasco in Mogadishu.115
The CIA reported on December 18 that Bin Ladin might be traveling to Kandahar and could be targeted there with cruise missiles. Vessels with Tomahawk cruise missiles were on station in the Arabian Sea, and could fire within a few hours of receiving target data.116
On December 20, intelligence indicated Bin Ladin would be spending the night at the Haji Habash house, part of the governor’s residence in Kandahar. The chief of the Bin Ladin unit, “Mike,” told us that he promptly briefed Tenet and his deputy, John Gordon. From the field, the CIA’s Gary Schroen advised: “Hit him tonight-we may not get another chance.” An urgent teleconference of principals was arranged.117
The principals considered a cruise missile strike to try to kill Bin Ladin. One issue they discussed was the potential collateral damage-the number of innocent bystanders who would be killed or wounded. General Zinni predicted a number well over 200 and was concerned about damage to a nearby mosque. The senior intelligence officer on the Joint Staff apparently made a different calculation, estimating half as much collateral damage and not predicting damage to the mosque. By the end of the meeting, the principals decided against recommending to the President that he order a strike. A few weeks later, in January 1999, Clarke wrote that the principals had thought the intelligence only half reliable and had worried about killing or injuring perhaps 300 people. Tenet said he remembered doubts about the reliability of the source and concern about hitting the nearby mosque. “Mike” remembered Tenet telling him that the military was concerned that a few hours had passed since the last sighting of Bin Ladin and that this persuaded everyone that the chance of failure was too great.118
Some lower-level officials were angry. “Mike” reported to Schroen that he had been unable to sleep after this decision. “I’m sure we’ll regret not acting last night,” he wrote, criticizing the principals for “worrying that some stray shrapnel might hit the Habash mosque and ‘offend’ Muslims.” He commented that they had not shown comparable sensitivity when deciding to bomb Muslims in Iraq. The principals, he said, were “obsessed” with trying to get others-Saudis, Pakistanis, Afghan tribals-to “do what we won’t do.” Schroen was disappointed too. “We should have done it last night,” he wrote. “We may well come to regret the decision not to go ahead.”119 The Joint Staff’s deputy director for operations agreed, even though he told us that later intelligence appeared to show that Bin Ladin had left his quarters before the strike would have occurred. Missing Bin Ladin, he said, “would have caused us a hell of a problem, but it was a shot we should have taken, and we would have had to pay the price.”
Schroen was right, they should have taken the shot, and this is the composit that the film protrayed with Sandy Berger slamming the phone down after informing them he didn’t have the authority. Yet, even with the “artistic license” we can see that - such as when the Predator had Bin Laden in it’s sites there was hemming and hawing and indecision abounding under Clinton.
In the military as in all dangerous work you learn one lesson - hesitation will get you killed. We learned that all too well on 9/11.