When I first read the report by the Justice Department’s office of inspector general (OIG) into the FBI’s failings in the run-up to 9/11, I was completely amazed by the number of people who could not recall how they blew literally dozens of opportunities to stop the 9/11 plot. I was reading it again recently for some new entries to be posted at the 9/11 Timeline about Doug Miller and Mark Rossini and this passage, about the blocking of a cable by Alec Station telling the FBI Khalid Almihdhar had a US visa, stuck out:
When we interviewed all of the individuals involved with the [cable], they asserted that they recalled nothing about it. [Miller] told the OIG that he did not recall being aware of the information about Almihdhar, did not recall drafting the [cable], did not recall whether he drafted the [cable] on his own initiative or at the direction of his supervisor, and did not recall any discussions about the reasons for delaying completion and dissemination of the [cable]. [Rossini] said he did not recall reviewing any of the cable traffic or any information regarding Alhazmi and Almihdhar. Eric [an FBI manager on loan to Alec Station] told the OIG that he did not recall the [cable].
The CIA employees also stated that they did not recall the [cable]. Although James, the CIA employee detailed to FBI Headquarters, declined to be interviewed by us, he told the CIA OIG that he did not recall the [cable]. [Tom Wilshire] (the Deputy Chief of the Bin Laden Unit) and Michelle, the desk officer who was following this issue, also stated that they did not recall the [cable], any discussions about putting it on hold, or why it was not sent.
That’s a veritable flood of memory loss, remarkable even by the OIG’s standards. I just went through the .pdf file and the words “not recall” appear 56 times, plus “not remember” 3 times.
When I first read the report, it even occurred to me that employees at the the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general must be fitted with a futuristic device that projects a forcefield causing temporary memory loss in anyone within a 10-metre radius, but, thanks to James Bamford, now I know better.