This article, which actually covers another piece that is actually more of a political cudgel, indicates that there was intel in the months leading up to 9/11 that an attack was imminent. I'm not really interested in the political game being played with this, but the raw history of it. And from the raw history, I have no doubt that there were warnings.
Now, why do I say this? First, when there are historic attacks like this, there are almost always subtle and not so subtle warnings. Now, when we look back on them, we say, how could people have missed that? But the fact is that these events destroy old realities and create all new realities. When we view them from our new reality, yeah, they seem obvious. But if you let yourself revert to old mindsets and perceptions of the world as they were in that old reality, you find that the pieces don't fit so nicely. It is often the attack or the disaster that changes the focal length of what is going on and everything becomes clear.
Secondly, and this dogs me to this day, early that summer, I read an article that discussed the growing terror threat. It said that intelligence agencies were worried that terrorists were going to be changing their tactics, and I believe it had used some examples from the then recent years as examples of how that was happening. And it discussed some of the tactics terrorists might use, and I found it frightening and mind blowing. And one of those tactics was using airplanes as weapons. So this was, at least at some level below the public consciousness, out there well in advance of 9/11. I was so taken aback by the article that it was something I would have blogged about, but this was the pre-blog days when only a few people like Sean Hackbarth and Glenn Reynolds were doing what would later be known as blogging.
The article had already receded in my mind a bit by September 10th, 2001, but it shot to the forefront of my mind that next day. Unfortunately, I was never able to find it back, and I used all of my web research skills. But it had been out there. It was as though it vaguely predicted the attack, in a way. But here's the catch - the most important information needed to stop an attack - who was going to do it, when they would, what would they attack, and what with - that was all still a mystery until the morning of 9-11-01. And even then, we wouldn't really who did it for a while.
So while it is fun, and rather easy, to play political gotcha games in stories of intel, it is a disservice to the history. Hindsight is indeed 20-20, but the present is all too often some damn murky water.