Although a few news reports surfaced in mid-2002 saying that the White House had prior warnings about an al-Queda attack, they were quickly squelched. From that point on, the party line was that they had no prior indication of an attack (until this week, when Condi Rice revealed that they did).
There is a lot of speculation in the 9/11 Commission Hearings why the Bush administration wouldn’t have taken the terrorism problem seriously, especially in light of emphatic warnings by the Clinton people as well as “internal” people such as Richard Clark.
When the Bush people came to power, however, they brought with them an attitude that they didn’t want or need to hear what the previous administration was doing. This arrogance was displayed most clearly when they immediately pulled the plug on the highly delicate and painstaking negotiations with N. Korea.
Certainly, the one thing that could push an issue (like the al Queda threat) down the Bush Administration’s priority list was the fact that the previous administration considered it urgent.