“It was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard, and lots of Americans were going to die,” former CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black recalls about the months before 9/11. Politico has an exclusive look from Chris Whipple into how the Bush administration ignored multiple detailed warnings from the CIA in the lead-up to the worst terrorist attack in US history. Whipple, along with Jules and Gedeon Naudet, interviewed 12 former CIA directors for their documentary The Spymasters, which airs later this month on Showtime. The conversations cover everything from torture to lethal drone strikes to the murky world of assassinations, and, of course, what was done—what could have been done—to prevent 9/11.
Whipple writes that the warnings delivered to the Bush administration were more specific than previously known. Former CIA director George Tenet says he and Black pitched a plan to the Bush team in the spring of 2001 that would have launched a paramilitary operation in Afghanistan to neutralize al-Qaeda. The administration wasn't interested. Black says the Bush team "just didn't get" it. "I think they were mentally stuck," he says. "They were used to terrorists being Euro-lefties—they drink champagne by night, blow things up during the day." In July, they met with Condoleezza Rice and emphatically warned her the country needed "to go on a wartime footing" immediately. Again nothing happened. "How is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened?" Black says. "It’s kind of like the Twilight Zone.” Read the full story here. (Read more 9/11 attacks stories.)