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September 5, 2008

Successful FOIA Requests: Masterlist (updated)

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 2:54 pm
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This is the masterlist for successful FOIA requests and is updated every time a new document is obtained based on an FOIA request. There is also a list of unsuccessful FOIA requests. I have currently obtained four documents/sets of documents by FOIA.

The latest addition was a set of documents pertaining the bombing of the USS Cole, which you can read about here. I got various documents in response to the request, but none of them was the one I wanted and none of the them was particularly interesting.

The most interesting thing I got is an FBI document called the Hijackers Timeline, which even made it to Raw Story. It was 298 pages, heavily redacted and came in a tightly bound FedEx package. It contained a lot of new information about 9/11, for example we found that two of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, said they moved in with a suspected Saudi agent immediately after arriving in the US, instead of 2-3 weeks later, as was claimed after 9/11. The document also shows there is video of two of the hijackers at Dulles airport the day before the attacks; this may be related to the account of security guard Eric Gill, who said the hijackers attempted to penetrate a secure area there on that day, but was largely ignored by the FBI and 9/11 Commission. There are lots of other interesting snippets, such as Marwan Alshehhi and Hamza Alghamdi spending hundreds of dollars on “pornographic video and sex toys,” Abdulaziz Alomari losing his plane ticket just before 9/11, and the length of a call (16 minutes) between the hijackers in the US and al-Qaeda’s main communications hub in Yemen. We know the call was intercepted by the NSA, but it allegedly did not figure out of party to the call was in the US.

The other two we obtained were from a request for documents we think might be related to an FBI programme called “Catcher’s Mitt.” We think Catcher’s Mitt deals with surveillance of al-Qaeda-related extremists in the US. We found the references to the documents in the DoJ Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s performance before 9/11.

The first is a memo from FISA Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth about problems with requests submitted by the FBI for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It is dated 9 March 2001 and referenced in the event March 2001: Justice Department Investigation Finds FISA Applications Are Misleading. The memo says that errors (essentially, the FBI was completely ignoring the “wall”) keep being made, despite measures to prevent them. The memo bans one FBI agent, Michael Resnick, from submitting any more affidavits about compliance with “wall” procedures to the court (reading between the lines, they thought he was deliberately flouting the procedures). The Department of Justice redacted Resnick’s name from the memo, even though it is clear which agent it is talking about from media accounts. My understanding is that although most of the errors pertained to surveillance of al-Qaeda targets in the US, Resnick was in charge of the Hamas section, and this memo related to Hamas.

The second is a memo from Attorney General John Ashcroft and is referenced in the event August 20, 2001 and After: Key Justice Department Unit Not Consulted about Moussaoui Warrant Request.The memo, dated 18 May 2001, sets out new procedures for dealing with requests under FISA. What is interesting about it is that it provides for closer coordination between field offices and the FISA Court, but this did not occur in the Zacarias Moussaoui case (no warrant application was submitted to either an ordinary criminal court or the FISA Court), and no warrant was issued.

The Justice Department has also “promised” us another document from this batch, a report on the errors compiled by the Office of Professional Responsibility. However, they appear to be redacting great chunks of it first and this is taking them some time.

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