, April 30, 2004

    Reading the Tea Leaves
    A satirical look at the myriad clues available to the government in advance
    of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

    By Bruce Kluger and David Slavin

    This month, officials from the former Clinton
    Administrations testified before the independent
    9/11 commission, indicating that members of the
    incoming Bush team were duly warned as early
    as December of 2000 about the growing threat
    of Al Qaeda terrorism on U.S. soil. These
    revelations capped off nearly two-and-a-half
    years of unsettling disclosures about similarly
    missed signals in the weeks and months leading
    up to the attacks, including warnings by field
    agents that Middle Eastern men were attending
    flight schools; the suspicious movement of money by terrorists among American
    bank accounts; and even an alert by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarakone week
    prior to Sept. 11that Osama bin Laden's terror network was in the late stages of
    mounting an attack on an American target.

    All of this raises the question: How many other clues -- significant or otherwise
    were overlooked during those late summer days of 2001?

    "And your Double Jeopardy categories are: Potent Potables, Broadway Musicals,
    Insects, The Bible, Starts With 'K,' Golf Legends, and Tangible Al Qaeda Threats
    Currently Facing American Security."
    Alex Trebek, host of "Jeopardy," on 9/3/01 broadcast

    "Turn-ons: Enrique Iglesias, hot fudge sundaes and long walks on the beach. Turn-
    offs: traffic, busy signals, negative people, and the proliferation of terrorist recruits
    within previously impenetrable security barriers."
    Playboy Magazine's Miss July 2001, Kimberly Stanfield, on her Playmate
    "Data Sheet"

    "I have a bad feeling in my gut about Osama Bin Laden. Could someone please call
    me back?
    Former Sen. Gary Hart, in message on White House answering machine,

    "Hot Styles for Hot Times: What Gwyneth Will Wear If The Warning Signs About
    Increased Terrorist Activity in the United States Are True?"
    Cover line, "Us Weekly" magazine, August 2001

    "Not only does it make an elegant centerpiece for your dining room table, but it can
    also be used as handy protective headgear in the likely event of a terrorist attack
    by an Islamic fundamentalist organization."
    Martha Stewart, CBS "Early Show," 6/29/01

    "People are so busy being busy, they've let the colors fade from their lives. We
    need to spend more time listening to our hearts, listening to our souls, and listening
    to reconnaissance tapes secretly recorded by the CIA on the Pakistan-Afghanistan
    "Self Matters" author "Dr. Phil" McGraw, to Oprah, 8/27/01

    "Listen, I'm serious here. I really think something bad might happen. Could
    somebodyanybodyplease call me back?
    Former Sen. Gary Hart, in message on White House answering machine,

    "He's the man with a plan /and he sits on top a llama / He's a snake in the sand
    /and he calls himself Osama."
    Rapper Jay-Z, from his little remembered song, "Osama, Yo Mama," July

    "Stay close to the bag. We don't want to risk the go-ahead run -- unless, of course,
    Al Qaeda strikes as you take your lead. In that case, run home as fast as you can."
    New York Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph to base-runner
    Derek Jeter, 9/3/01

    "And, dude, if you get the 4100 model now, it comes with a DVD-ROM drive, twenty
    gigs of storage space, a one-year warranty, and an emergency generator in the
    event that, like, some terrorist dudes knock out all the power stations across the
    Dell computer pitchman "Steven," in the company's summer 2001 TV

    "Hey, hon. I just hung up with Gary Hart, and he said nobody at the WH is returning
    his calls. Do you know anybody he could talk to over there? Lord knows, they don't
    return my calls, either.
    Bill Clinton, in email to wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 8/29/01

    (Click here to read online version.)