The Man Who Knew: John O'Neill

frontline: PBS

In light of Richard Clarke's story about the pushing of terrorism to a back burner, let's all remember another person that the Bush Administration ignored in their rush to Iraq - John O'Neill. He was the FBI's leading expert on al-Qaeda and warned the Bush Administration repeatedly about their reach and drive to attack.

He quit the FBI to become head of security for the World Trade Center, and died in the 9/11 attacks, becoming a painful casulty of the Bush Administration's delegation of al-Qaeda to a back burner.

If the Bush Administration had responded to the increased level of chatter and warnings about an impending al-Qaeda attack, John O'Neill would not have quit. It's interesting that the frontline site asks this question: What if the CIA had shared its information with the FBI? The circumstances for shared information could easily have been the kind of high-level focused meetings that Clinton convened in 1999, when several terrorism attacks were foiled around the turn of the millenium. Every day, the various heads of the intelligence community would have shaken the tree to get the best intelligence available into the hands of people who understood it.

Imagine Richard Clarke, John O'Neill, the Phoenix memo, the CIA information about two hijackers already in the country, and the case file of Zacharias Moussaoui in the same room. It's a world in which the 9/11 attacks would never have happened.

But worrying about al-Qaeda was just so Clinton. And Bush was the anti-Clinton. And so the towers fell.