Democrats Think Bush Knew About 9/11 Attacks in Advance?

A Rasmussen survey finds that, “Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure.” Put another way, 61% of Democrats think it possible that the president knew about the attacks and did nothing. He was aware that, at minimum, the hundreds of people aboard those four airliners would die and he went calmly off to read “My Pet Goat” to some children?

Maybe I’m hanging around the wrong Democrats, since I’ve never had one express this concern to me. Until I see this replicated, I’m not going to get too terribly alarmed. Rasmussen is a reputable firm but this one just doesn’t smell right.

Others are taking this at face value.

Ed Morrissey (who, oddly, has a Rasmussen membership) takes a look at the crosstabs and notes that, “A clear majority of independents had no problem clearing Bush. Only 18% of them believe that Bush had advance knowledge of the attack, and 25% are unsure.” Still, it strikes me as implausible that 43% of independents think this possible. Ed allows that, “It doesn’t make a lot of sense — but then, conspiracy theories never do.” True enough. But still…..

Pejman Yousefzadeh is also somewhat credulous. He’s right, though, that “if you actually buy into the belief that the President knew about the attacks in advance, or that the CIA knew, given the evidence that we have after multiple investigations . . . well . . . I’m really not sure there is anything on Earth I can argue to change your mind.”

John Hawkins has no problem at all believing Democrats are “conspiracy loons” or, indeed, “Crazed, Drooling Nutjobs.” Has has a point, though, when he adds, “if people who know better don’t speak up, they allow the crazies to dominate the conversation by default and the public may not know the difference.”

J. Goodrich counters that this isn’t surprising, “given the very small amount of information that comes from the secretive Bush administration. Nature abhors a vacuum and if the public is not allowed to get information from the government, other sources pick up that job. The result is many conspiracy theories, and just alternative theories in general.”

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. kenny says:

    it could depend on what people thought was meant by ‘advance knowledge’. If by advance knowledge you mean that the US government knew that AQ were going to hijack planes on the 11/9/2001 and fly them into buildings then the poll answer are absurd.

    If however the pollees thought the question was referring to the government having knowledge that AQ was up to something and planning to launch an attack in the US without knowing the specific details then the poll makes more sense.

  2. Mark says:

    If however the pollees thought the question was referring to the government having knowledge that AQ was up to something and planning to launch an attack in the US without knowing the specific details then the poll makes more sense.

    This was my first thought as well. I wonder if Democrats and Republicans systematically interpreted “know” differently.

    From the Rasmussen site, the exact wording was:

    Did Bush Know About the 9/11 Attacks in Advance?

  3. Gary Denton says:

    I agree with the above comments. What was the name of that briefing report that Condi had to be forced to admit to giving Bush? ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.’

    Maybe Democrats are more apt to remember that.

  4. Anon says:

    I would also like to see the actual questions. I can imagine that slight differences in interpretation could result in different answers. For example, if the question were phrased:

    “Bush had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, but failed to take the intelligence seriously enough.”

    I can imagine that many Democrats would answer this yes.

  5. zara says:

    Yes, I suspect Mr. Denton is right. Democrats would be more likely to remember the title of that memo, without being familiar with its actual contents, and thus to believe that the administration had a much more specific warning than it did

  6. Bithead says:

    Hawkins has this one right.
    What he misses is these are normally fairly sane people, driven over the edge by Bush Derangement Syndrome.

  7. spencer says:

    the poll also found that 15% of republicans believed the same thing.

    So why is 15% for republicans OK, and double that for democrats something to make a big deal of– especially given the reasonable questions raised above about what people thought they were saying when they answered the question.

  8. James Joyner says:

    So why is 15% for republicans OK, and double that for democrats something to make a big deal of-

    Fifteen percent can be attributed to sheer stupidity. More than that believe UFOs, the Easter Bunny, and pro wrestling are real. (That’s a made-up stat, BTW, but likely right.)

  9. G.A. Phillips says:

    Bithead has picked out the overwhelming common denominator, It seems like very simple fact that the Democrats will believe anything if it helps fuel their hatred for Bush. As for the 15% of crazed rhino, could they be the same knuckle heads who helped vote this madness into control of our congress and senate?

  10. Brainster says:

    Don’t forget the way the media pushed that whole 8/6/01 PDB as a clear warning of an imminent attack. Yeah, I know it didn’t say that, but that’s the way the media portrayed it.

    If the real 9-11 Denial crackpottery (like LIHOP and MIHOP) were that strong among the Democrats (and let’s not forget 1 in 8 Republicans), then some politician would have seized it as an issue. Even that fruitbar Kucinich has restrained himself from embracing 9-11 nuttery.

    Countless journalists and columnists would be devoting time to the issue. That they are not (except to express obvious derision at the movement) is a pretty good sign that most of the people answering yes were not talking about complete knowledge, but were saying “They should have known”. I disagree with them, but they are not complete kooks, just misinformed by the MSM.

  11. Kent says:

    I agree with previous comments: It was a very poorly worded poll question.

    Surprising for “a reputable firm.” I suppose everyone stumbles now and then, though.

  12. carpeicthus says:

    Hawkins is right. The world is full of crazy people … like John Hawkins.

    This seems like a rather poorly worded question.

  13. spencer says:

    If 15% is sheer stupidity I wonder how the answers to the question, Was Saddam responsible for 9/11?,
    would break down on a party basis.

    I’m willing to bet that the number of republicans answering yes would be a multiple of the number of democrats answering yes.