Wednesday, June 09, 2004

King of the Morlocks 

Via Zemblan patriot K.Z.: James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets -- two of the best books ever written on the workings of the national security state -- has just published a third, A Pretext for War, which focuses primarily on the CIA's failure to recognize and cope with the mounting threat of al Qaeda. And there's at least one incidental scoop along the way: Bamford discloses Dick Cheney's "undisclosed location":
In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney hid out at "Site R," an underground bunker seven miles from Camp David, deep beneath Raven Rock Mountain on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, says intelligence expert James Bamford in a new book due out tomorrow.

In "A Pretext for War," Bamford describes Cheney's secure location as "a secret world of five buildings, each three stories tall, computer-filled caverns and a subterranean water reservoir," according to a review in the June 14 issue of Time magazine.
As longtime Zemblans know, there are quite a few of these deluxe getaways scattered about the continent. It's nice to know that Cheney was able to book a suite so convenient to the capital (and on such short notice!) -- and by the way, I hear the roasted Eloi is impeccable.

UPDATE: According to a Washington Post review of the new book, Bamford charges that four neocon hawks -- Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith -- "locked in a plan to wage war in Iraq well before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." He also corroborates reports (by James Ridgeway, among others) that the attacks were made possible by a stunning lack of preparedness up and down the military chain of command:
Other writers have also chronicled the overall failures and some of the panic, but Bamford found much new information that underscores just how chaotic and dangerous things really were in Sept. 11's immediate aftermath. For example, Bamford notes that two Air National Guard jets were scramble-ready and perhaps could have intercepted at least one of the suicide airliners, yet were assigned that day to unarmed bomb practice. Even if they had scrambled earlier, however, the fighter jets had no weapons to shoot down the hijacked jets. In fact, Bamford says, "on September 11, 2001, the entire United States mainland was protected by just fourteen planes spread out over seven bases."

Bamford goes on to track the reactions to the attack inside the NSA and CIA and supplies a chronology detailing when various senior administration officials were notified. For example, CIA director George Tenet received no word until well after the second aircraft had crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. The top military commanders were just as out of touch. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Henry Shelton, was en route to Europe, and his deputy, Gen. Richard Myers, was on Capitol Hill. "Through it all, the general in charge of the country's military was completely ignorant of the fact that the United States was under its worst attack in nearly two centuries," Bamford writes. "Nor did he know that about forty minutes earlier, the President had decided to declare war."

| | Technorati Links | to Del.icio.us