“Indeed, NSA had no knowledge before September 11th that any of the attackers were in the United States.”
I always suspected this was not true and here is the proof, evidence submitted at Zacarias Moussaoui’s trial in 2006. It’s documentation from August 2001 about the passage of information about two of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, to criminal agents at the FBI. Due to restrictions related to the “wall,” the passage had to be approved by the NSA’s general counsel. The documentation, passed between the NSA’s representative to the FBI and the general counsel, states, “FBI would appreciate priority handling on this request, since al-Mihdar is already in the U.S.” It later goes on to point out that Almihdhar “arrived in New York City on July 4, 2001 on a B1 visa issued in Jidda, Saudi Arabia.”
Clearly then, the NSA did know that one of the attackers was in the US before 9/11.
It is hard to imagine that Hayden could not have been aware of this at the time he was interviewed by the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, as the NSA intercepted Almihdhar’s calls for years before 9/11, including when Almihdhar was in the USA, and Hayden discussed this with the inquiry (and also apparently the 9/11 Commission). However, for some unexplained reason the NSA failed to notify the FBI of the calls and this failure was later used as the justification for the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping programme.
Obviously, the question is why Hayden was lying. Presumably, it was not simply for the good of his health and he wished to conceal some wrongdoing. Given that both the NSA and CIA were concealing information about Almihdhar and Alhazmi from the FBI one has to wonder whether this was part of a coordinated plan of action.
I actually read the NSA documentation a couple of years ago when it was first published, but only realised it could be used to show Hayden’s statement about not knowing any of the attackers was in the US was false after I read James Bamford’s new book The Shadow Factory. I have a number of observations on the book and will start churning them out soon.