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Judith Miller: Tipped Off to 9/11?

Sure, she didn’t stop 9/11, but at least she helped lead us into the Iraq war.

Good grief!

Ms. Run Amok’s latest claim is that she was tipped off to super-secret chatter about a major Al Qaeda attack in the summer of 2001 —and sat on the scoop.

Given what we now know about her West Wing sources, can we assume the same about the Bush White House?

Alternet has the interview:

MILLER: The person told me that there was some concern about an intercept that had been picked up. The incident that had gotten everyone’s attention was a conversation between two members of Al Qaida. And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole. And one Al Qaida operative was overheard saying to the other,’Don’t worry; we’re planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.’

And I was obviously floored by that information. I thought it was a very good story: (1) the source was impeccable; (2) the information was specific, tying Al Qaida operatives to, at least, knowledge of the attack on the Cole; and (3) they were warning that something big was coming, to which the United States would have to respond. This struck me as a major page one-potential story.

I remember going back to work in New York the next day and meeting with my editor Stephen Engelberg. I was rather excited, as I usually get about information of this kind, and I said,’Steve, I think we have a great story. And the story is that two members of Al Qaida overheard on an intercept (and I assumed that it was the National Security Agency, because that’s who does these things) were heard complaining about the lack of American response to the Cole, but also…contemplating what would happen the next time, when there was, as they said, the impending major attack that was being planned.

And Stephen said,’That’s great! Who were the guys overheard?’

I said,’Well, I don’t know. I just know that they were both Al Qaida operatives.’

‘Where were they overheard?’ Steve asked.

Well, I didn’t know where the two individuals were. I didn’t know what countries they were in; I didn’t know whether they were having a local call or a long-distance call.

‘What was the attack they were planning?’ he said.’Was it domestic, was it international, was it another military target, was it a civilian target?’

I didn’t know.

‘Had they discussed it?’

I didn’t know, and it was at that point that I realized that I didn’t have the whole story. As Steve put it to me,’You have a great first and second paragraph. What’s your third?’

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