It was Clinton's fault and there is no denying it.
May 15, 2002 — The White House said tonight that President Bush had been warned by American intelligence agencies in early August that Osama bin Laden was seeking to hijack aircraft.
"It is widely known that we had information that bin Laden wanted to attack the United States or United States interests abroad," Ari Fleischer, the president's press secretary, said this evening. "The president was also provided information about bin Laden wanting to engage in hijacking."
In the past few days, government officials have acknowledged for the first time that an F.B.I. agent in Phoenix had urged the F.B.I. headquarters to investigate Middle Eastern men enrolled in American flight schools. That memorandum also cited Mr. bin Laden by name and suggested that his followers could use the schools to train for terror operations, officials who have seen the memorandum said.
Administration officials reached this evening said the warning given to Mr. Bush did not come from the F.B.I. or from the information developed by the Phoenix agent. Instead, it was provided as part of the C.I.A. briefing he is given each morning, suggesting that it was probably based on evidence gathered abroad.
The C.I.A. had been listening intently over the July 4 holiday last year, after what one investigator called "a lot of static in the system suggesting something was coming."
The warning of the hijacking was given to the president at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., where he was on vacation. It was not clear this evening why the White House waited eight months after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington to reveal what Mr. Bush had been told.