Date registered: Dec 2005
Location: United States
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Quoted: 397 Post(s)
Bush now claims he foiled attack on L.A. in 2002
In a new attempt to justify torture and spying on Americans, Bush suddenly claims he foiled a terrorist attack on L.A. back in 2002. Will whoever buys this story please signify by raising your hand, I want to sell you some swampland.
Bush Says Cooperation Foiled 2002 Terrorist Scheme
By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 9, 2006; 5:24 PM
President Bush today disclosed new details of a foiled terrorist plot to fly a hijacked airliner into a skyscraper on the West Coast, crediting international cooperation in the war on terrorism with thwarting the 2002 scheme.
In a speech to the National Guard Association in Washington, Bush said Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network planned to follow up its Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon by sending young men from Southeast Asia to hijack a plane using shoe bombs to break into the cockpit. He said the plot called for the hijackers to then fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast, a 73-story structure in Los Angeles now known as US Bank Tower.
Bush said the plot was broken up in early 2002 when a "key al Qaeda operative" was arrested by a Southeast Asian nation.
He made no mention of a controversial National Security Agency eavesdropping program that the administration has credited with helping to thwart terrorist plots and save American lives. Critics of the secret program, carried out for more than four years without warrants, have charged that it violates U.S. law and have challenged the administration to give examples of the claimed successes to justify the need for it.
In a conference call with reporters after Bush's speech, Frances Fragos Townsend, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said the speech was intended to emphasize "that terrorism is a global problem requiring a global response."
She said the "key al Qaeda operative" Bush referred to was the leader of a four-member cell that planned to hijack the plane as part of the West Coast plot. The cell leader, whom she declined to identify, was arrested in an unspecified country in February 2002, and the three other members were arrested subsequently, Townsend said.
Asked whether NSA wiretaps played any role in disrupting the plot, Townsend declined to discuss which "sources and methods" were used or to say whether NSA eavesdropping was involved "one way or the other."
She later said, however, "The point of the president's speech was to talk about the international cooperation. This was not meant to be a speech about the NSA surveillance program."
In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) complained that he was blindsided by Bush's disclosure of new details on the al Qaeda plot targeting his city, and he described communication with the White House as "nonexistent," the Associated Press reported.
"I'm amazed that the president would make this [announcement] on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor told the AP. "I don't expect a call from the president -- but somebody."
The West Coast plot was described in general terms last year after Bush said in a speech on terrorism that the United States and its allies had thwarted at least 10 serious al Qaeda plots since the Sept. 11 attacks, including three intended to be carried out on U.S. territory. The White House said those plans included using hijacked commercial airliners to attack the East and West coasts in 2002 and 2003. It identified one target as the building then known as Library Tower in Los Angeles, which was to be attacked with an airliner hijacked overseas.
In providing further details today, Bush said that "while Americans were still recovering from an unprecedented strike on our homeland" in the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, "al Qaeda was already busy planning its next attack."
Bush said that in October 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the top al Qaeda figure who masterminded the Sept. 11 plot, "had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast." Bush then misspoke, identifying the intended target as the "Liberty Tower in Los Angeles, California." The White House later confirmed that he meant to say it was Library Tower, a 1,018-foot-tall structure built in 1989 that was renamed US Bank Tower in 2003. It ranks as the tallest building west of the Mississippi...
"Their plot was derailed in early 2002, when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al Qaeda operative," Bush said. He did not identify the operative or otherwise elaborate.