Gore: 'I would have heeded 9/11 warnings'

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Published: Wednesday November 29, 2006

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In an interview with GQ Magazine, former Vice President Al Gore -- who many Democrats believe should have been determined the winner rather than George Bush in the 2000 presidential election which the Supreme Court eventually decided -- maintains that he would have "heeded the warnings" in 2001 before the September 11 terrorist attacks, although he added that "no one can say that the 9-11 attack wouldnít have occurred whoever was president."

Gore was asked if there was "a part of you that felt a sense of relief that you werenít in charge that day."

"You mean a sense of relief that I didnít have to deal with it?" Gore responded. "Oh no. Not at all. Not for one second. Not for one second. Why would I? I mean, well first of all, it just didnít occur to me to feel anything like that."

"What did occur to me was to feel what every American felt, the outrage and anger and righteous anger, and support for the President at a time of dangerÖ" Gore continued. "And, honestly, I was focused on the reality of the situation. And I wasnít president, so, you know, it wasnít about me."

"Now, I do wish, now that we have some distance from the events, and we have all this knowledge about what this administration did do, I certainly feel that I wish that it had been handled differently, and I do wish that I had somehow been able to prevent some of the catastrophic mistakes that were made," Gore said.

Gore admitted that "itís almost too easy to say, 'I would have heeded the warnings,'" but left little doubt that he thought the president hadn't done as much as he should have when warned by the CIA in the summer of 2001 that bin Laden was determined to attack the Unites States.

"In fact, I think I would have, I know I would have," Gore said. "We had several instances when the CIAís alarm bells went off, and what we did when that happened was, we had emergency meetings and called everybody together and made sure that all systems were go and every agency was hitting on all cylinders, and we made them bring more information, and go into the second and third and fourth level of detail."

"It is inconceivable to me" Gore continued," that Bush would read a warning as stark and as clear [voice angry now] as the one he received on August 6th of 2001, and, according to some of the new histories, he turned to the briefer and said, 'Well, youíve covered your ass.' And never called a follow up meeting. Never made an inquiry. Never asked a single question. To this day, I donít understand it."

Gore said that he thought it was "fair to say" that Bush "personally does in fact bear a measure of blame for not doing his job at a time when we really needed him to do his job."

The former Tennessee senator fretted that his words may be viewed as some "sort of cheap political game-playing" but insisted he would have acted more proactively than Bush.

"And you know, Iím even reluctant to talk about it in these terms because itís so easy for people to hear this or read this as sort of cheap political game-playing," Gore said. "I understand how it could sound that way."

According to GQ, Gore "practically" began screaming when he spoke of the lack of "accountablity" by the Bush Administration.

"But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure?" Gore said. "This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!"