The Lesson of 9/11 Is a Warning That Biden's Declining Physical and Mental Ability Could Get People Killed

AP Photo/J. David Ake

An old saying among the holders of our nation’s classified secrets sums it up: “You can lead policymakers to intelligence, but you can’t make them think.”

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Enter President Joe Biden. A president who has taken more vacation days to recover from fewer hours worked than any president in living memory. A man who is the barely breathing role model for the 4-day 32-hour work week that socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is now advocating. A man who, in rambling, almost incoherent appearances with other national leaders, keeps referring to his aides as the people telling him what to do.

Joe Biden’s cognitive ability, never great, has declined over the last year to the point where even many Democrats are admitting he is too old to do the job. His insurance policy has been Vice President Kamala Harris, whose flitting forays onto the national stage have only served to highlight that Joe Biden is the brains of the operation.

With that ultimate sense of self-preservation that comes with advanced age, Biden chose his vice president wisely. But how long can the country be run by some hidden Committee of Public Safety? Clearly, we have learned very little from the failure to lead and communicate that led to 9/11.

The terrorists exploited the failure of the Clinton administration to act on intelligence it received. For one, they chose not to kill Osama Bin Laden when they had him in their sights, and secondly, they did not take the hijacking scenario seriously enough to make needed safety changes in air travel. Seven months into the Bush administration, intelligence warnings again said that Bin Laden was back and ready to act on the hijacking plan outlined two years earlier.

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A warning was given to two different presidents that Bin Laden was an active threat, or  “pregnant,” and may be ready to give “birth” to his terror, according to one intercepted communication declassified in the 9/11 Commission Report. The process seems to have been accelerated when “…on November 4, 1998, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed its indictment of Bin Ladin, charging him with conspiracy to attack U.S. defense installations.” This was related to the first attack on the World Trade Center by the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman in 1993.

“On Friday, December 4, 1998, the CIA included an article in the Presidential Daily Brief describing intelligence, received from a friendly government, about a threatened hijacking in the United States. This article was declassified at our request,” said the report. “After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [—] service,” an Aug. 6, 2001, report warned.

Related: 9/11 Timeline: Where Were You When?

Clinton and George W. Bush were energetic leaders. Today, the White House and Congress are anything but young and energetic. Is our current part-time president qualified to understand and act on the intelligence details he receives in his daily brief any better than his two much younger predecessors? Does he have the ability to connect the dots and project strength as a leader? Is it time to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Biden from office?

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For Republicans, it may well be the devil you know versus the devil you don’t know. They have zero respect for the ability of either of these leaders. But what is holding the Democrats back from removing a party leader who looks more like the skipper of the Titanic than the head of our ship of state?

For those interested, below are the declassified Presidential Daily Brief Clinton and then Bush were given. How do you think Biden would score on these?

The following is the text of an item from the Presidential Daily Brief received by President William J. Clinton on December 4, 1998. Redacted material is indicated in brackets.

SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks

1. Reporting [—] suggests Bin Ladin and his allies are preparing for attacks in the US, including an aircraft hijacking to obtain the release of Shaykh ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, and Muhammad Sadiq ‘Awda. One source quoted a senior member of the Gama’at al-Islamiyya (IG) saying that, as of late October, the IG had completed planning for an operation in the US on behalf of Bin Ladin, but that the operation was on hold. A senior Bin Ladin operative from Saudi Arabia was to visit IG counterparts in the US soon thereafter to discuss options—perhaps including an aircraft hijacking.

• IG leader Islambuli in late September was planning to hijack a US airliner during the “next couple of weeks” to free ‘Abd alRahman and the other prisoners, according to what may be a different source.
• The same source late last month said that Bin Ladin might implement plans to hijack US aircraft before the beginning of Ramadan on 20 December and that two members of the operational team had evaded security checks during a recent trial run at an unidentified New York airport. [—]

2. Some members of the Bin Ladin network have received hijack training, according to various sources, but no group directly tied to Bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida organization has ever carried out an aircraft hijacking. Bin Ladin could be weighing other types of operations against US aircraft.According to [—] the IG in October obtained SA-7 missiles and intended to move them from Yemen into Saudi Arabia to shoot down an Egyptian plane or, if unsuccessful, a US military or civilian aircraft.

• A [—] in October told us that unspecified “extremist elements” in Yemen had acquired SA-7s. [—]

3. [—] indicate the Bin Ladin organization or its allies are moving closer to implementing anti-US attacks at unspecified locations, but we do not know whether they are related to attacks on aircraft. A Bin Ladin associate in Sudan late last month told a colleague in Kandahar that he had shipped a group of containers to Afghanistan. Bin Ladin associates also talked about the movement of containers to Afghanistan before the East Africa bombings.

• In other [—] Bin Ladin associates last month discussed picking up a package in Malaysia. One told his colleague in Malaysia that “they” were in the “ninth month [of pregnancy].”
• An alleged Bin Ladin supporter in Yemen late last month remarked to his mother that he planned to work in “commerce” from abroad and said his impending “marriage,” which would take place soon, would be a “surprise.” “Commerce” and “marriage” often are codewords for terrorist attacks. [—]”

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The following is the text of an item from the Presidential Daily Brief received by President George W. Bush on August 6, 2001. Redacted material is indicated by brackets.

Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [—] service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [—] service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US.

Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate
the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al-Qa’ida members—including some who are US citizens—have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.

Two al-Qua’ da members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [—] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shaykh” ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

 

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