White House releases bin Laden memo
Presidential briefing was at center of Rice's testimony
CNN             4/40/04

(CNN) -- The White House declassified and released Saturday the daily intelligence briefing delivered to President Bush a month before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Portions of the intelligence report dealing with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and dated August 6, 2001, have been redacted for national security reasons, the White House said.

The memo, titled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States," had been described by the White House as a largely historical document with scant information about domestic al Qaeda threats.

The memo includes intelligence on al Qaeda threats as recent as three months before the attacks.

Much of the intelligence was uncorroborated, and nothing in the memo points directly to the September 11 attacks.

Highlights of the report include:

•An intelligence report received in May 2001 indicating that al Qaeda was trying to send operatives to the United States through Canada to carry out an attack using explosives. That information had been passed on to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

•An allegation that al Qaeda had been considering ways to hijack American planes to win the release of operatives who had been arrested in 1998 and 1999.

•An allegation that bin Laden was set on striking the United States as early as 1997 and through early 2001.

•Intelligence suggesting that suspected al Qaeda operatives were traveling to and from the United States, were U.S. citizens, and may have had a support network in the country.

•A report that at least 70 FBI investigations were under way in 2001 regarding possible al Qaeda cells/terrorist-related operations in the United States.

The two-page document became the highlight of national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony Thursday before the commission investigating the attacks.

The commission asked that the presidential daily briefing be declassified after Rice's testimony.

"This was the commission's hope," spokesman Al Felzenberg said Saturday.

"The White House has now complied. The White House agreed to release the documents. This is what the commission had hoped."

The briefing was delivered to Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Rice told the commission Thursday that the briefing included mostly "historical information" and that most of the threat information known in the summer of 2001 referred to overseas targets.

She said she did not recall any reports about al Qaeda using aircraft as weapons before September 11.