Dan Rather: Bush Issued
Fake Terror Alert To
Cover 911 Bungle


"CBS Evening News" anchorman Dan Rather accused the Bush administration Wednesday morning of issuing an unwarranted FBI terrorist alert to New York City yesterday primarily to distract from questions about its handling of pre-Sept. 11 intelligence information.
Appearing on the "Imus in the Morning" radio show, Rather said he "believed" his network's report a week ago that the White House received a CIA briefing before 9-11 on possible al-Qaeda hijackings prompted the administration to issue the alert for political damage control.
"I can believe that the president and the people around him were surprised and peeved, to say the least," Rather contended, "that the information got out last week with [CBS's] report that President Bush had been briefed about some things that, in retrospect after Sept. 11, would indicate that, well, maybe somebody should have done something."
The CBS newsman continued:
"And I can also believe that, as with every president, somebody's in the White House scratching their heads saying, 'How can we change the subject.' Now, the subject has been changed, suddenly and very effectively, from 'How is it that the FBI and the CIA didn't move on the information they had? Where was the president briefed about what, when?'
"The subject's been changed," Rather explained, "from that, to suddenly one administration official after another, and each escalating it, [issuing] a new set of warnings."
The CBS anchor said he doubted the confluence of events was coincidental:
"Maybe these two things are not connected, but surely the people in the administration could forgive us for perhaps thinking, well, perhaps there's some connection here."
Prior to outlining his terrorist alert conspiracy theory, Rather sounded dismissive about the latest warning that had Manhattan in a virtual traffic lockdown Wednesday morning.
"We're on some kind of alert because somebody heard something that somebody may blow something up. [But] as a citizen, what are we supposed to do with that information?"
Rather also defended Democrat calls for a 9-11 investigation into the Bush White House, saying:
"We're not interested in just looking in the rearview mirror so we can nail somebody, you know - 'What did you know and when did you know it?'
"But this is pretty important stuff," he insisted. "Given the stories about intelligence failures that we already have heard about, who can argue that we don't need some kind of commission ... led by professionals that goes into how the situation with al-Qaeda was handled before Sept. 11, what mistakes were made and what we can learn from that."
Rather insisted that curiosity about a possible Bush 9-11 cover-up had nothing to do with partisan politics.
"That's not playing partisan politics. There's already too much of that. That's trying to get information that can help us all in the future."
The CBS newsman also accused Attorney General John Ashcroft of taking advantage of insider information about terrorist warnings to fly on private jets, while the public was kept in the dark about the secret alert, telling Imus:
"If the attorney general is given information that convinces him, 'Hey, I don't want to be on any commercial airliners just now. I'm gonna take government planes everywhere.' If the attorney general was told that ... then it raises a question. Why wasn't the public alerted?"
"Some people probably would not have flown" had they also received the Ashcroft warning, he complained.
After the CBS news anchor's interview, NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski called Imus to correct the record, explaining that Ashcroft's decision not to fly commercial aircraft last summer was prompted by threats against his life - and had no connection whatsoever to pre-Sept. 11 intelligence information.


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