A new entry in the Complete 9/11 Timeline reveals that, shortly before the World Trade Center was first hit on 9/11, Kirk Lippold--who had been the commanding officer of the USS Cole--made an ominous statement. While having breakfast at the CIA's headquarters, he reportedly complained that it would take a "seminal event" to awaken the American public to the threat posed by terrorism:
(8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Navy Commander Describes Need for 'Seminal' Terrorist Event
At the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, three senior CIA officers—John Russack, Don Kerr, and Charlie Allen—are having breakfast with Navy Commander Kirk Lippold. Lippold was the commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen the previous year (see October 12, 2000). The men's discussion is focused on terrorism. Lippold is upset that the American public still does not recognize the threat it poses, and says that it will take a "seminal event" to awaken them to the problem. Following the breakfast, Lippold heads to the Counterterrorist Center at CIA headquarters for some briefings. Just minutes later, after the WTC is hit, Charlie Allen will contact Lippold and tell him, "The seminal event just happened." [Tenet, 2007, pp. 162-163]
Lippold's prescient comments are reminiscent of remarks made by some top U.S. government officials around the same time that morning. For example, just before the first attack occurred, CIA Director George Tenet was having breakfast at a Washington hotel with former Senator David Boren. Boren asked: "What are you worried about these days?" to which Tenet replied: "Bin Laden." According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, Tenet told Boren he "was convinced that bin Laden was going to do something big." When Boren asked: "How could one private person without the resources of a foreign government be such a threat?" Tenet responded: "You don't understand the capabilities and the reach of what they're putting together." (Bob Woodward, Bush at War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002, pp. 1-3.)
And during an 8:00 a.m. breakfast meeting at the Pentagon, according to his own recollection, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned that "without question, in the next six to eight months, those same people who [are] concerned about the Social Security lockbox [are] going to be wishing they were on the right side of these issues involving national security, because our history is just peppered with examples of surprises. And asymmetrical events, that who knows what they'll be or where they'll be or when they'll be." ("Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the Washington Post." U.S. Department of Defense, January 9, 2002.)
As Rumsfeld continued: "And someone came in and said a plane had gone into the Trade Center."