White House waives secrecy for document

April 10, 2004 at 10:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- The White House Saturday made public a key briefing document that warned President Bush before Sept. 11 of possible al-Qaida attacks inside the United States.

The document shows Bush was told in early August 2001 that Osama bin Laden had been threatening since 1997 to "bring the fighting to America." A senior White House official told reporters the document was only one of dozens of mentions of al Qaida during presidential briefings and that by the time the president saw it, the government was already on high alert for information on terrorism.

The document, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.," was pinpointed as a key to what the White House knew of bin Laden by the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, United Press International reported.

Known as a "PDB," for "presidential daily briefing," the document -- written by a CIA analyst after consultations with the FBI -- said that, "We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting," including a 1998 report that bin Laden wanted to hijack U.S. aircraft to gain the release of some accused in the earlier World Trade Center bombing.

While none of the information contained in the briefing document specifically warned of the Sept. 11 plot, it did say that al Qaida members "including some who are U.S. citizens" had been traveling to the United States "for years" and that the organization "apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks."

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