History Commons Groups

November 28, 2009

9/11 Commission Documents about the NSA (updated 6 December 2009)

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 2:05 am
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This post lists documents drafted by the 9/11 Commission about its investigation of the NSA. The documents have been posted at the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. I am reading through them gradually and highlighting interesting information. This post will be updated continuously.


November 27, 2009

Zelikow’s ‘What Do I Do Now?’ Memo Found

We have found the famous “What Do I Do Now?” memo drafted by 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow on March 2, 2003. The memo advised staffers newly hired by the commission what they should do after starting work.

The memo was found by Erik at the National Archives and uploaded to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd.


November 19, 2009

The Sabol-Corsi Consultation: FBI General Counsel’s Take

One of the documents Erik found at the National Archives and posted to the 9/11 Document Archive contains additional information about the failure to find alleged Pentagon hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. The document, a memo of a 9/11 Commission interview of former FBI General Counsel Larry Parkinson drafted by commission staffer Barbara Grewe, concerns a consultation on August 28, 2001 between Dina Corsi, an FBI headquarters agent, and Sherry Sabol, an attorney at the FBI’s National Security Law Unit.


November 17, 2009

Another Alias Found

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 3:54 pm
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I have found another one of the aliases used in the various 9/11 reports. The real name of Tim, an FBI National Security Law Unit attorney who was consulted about the Zacarias Moussaoui case, is Tom Ainora. Tim is mentioned in the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s pre-9/11 failings.

This has been added to the list of aliases post, which you can find here.

I found the name in a document that Eric got from the National Archives and uploaded to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. It is a memo summarising an interview with former FBI General Counsel Larry Parkinson, drafted by 9/11 Commission Special Projects team leader Barbara Grewe. Ainora’s real name is mentioned at the bottom of page 5.

November 14, 2009

A Perfect Quote for the History Commons

Filed under: community — Max @ 7:54 pm
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Well, at least in my opinion. I came across it in the introduction to Sean Wilentz’s The Age of Reagan, but it’s originally from a 1984 tome by Theodore Draper. Draper wrote:

I have written for the reader who was no longer interested in the daily or even weekly ration of news; this reader wanted to understand it in some organized form and some historical perspective. No doubt the organization and perspective would change as time went on and more information or insight became available. Life cannot wait, however, for historians to gather enough evidence to satisfy them or to make up their minds once they get it. Even a preliminary organization and perspective represent an advance, however provisional. We must make do with what we have while it is still possible to do something about the matter.

Naturally, I do not contend that I or anyone else on the Commons is fit to carry the pencil cases of Wilentz or Draper, two of our generation’s most eminent historians. But I think Draper’s words fit our raison d’etre very nicely, with one important difference: we don’t wait for historians, either ourselves or others, to make judgments and present them to the public. We provide the information and let the public make its own judgments, based on the best and most complete information we can present.

(Cross-posted at the History Commons blog.)

The Real Reason Only Five Detainees Are Coming to New York?

US Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that five detainees would be moved from Guantanamo Bay to New York, where they would stand trial for carrying out the 9/11 attacks. However, five other detainees will continue to be tried before military commissions, which have lower standards of evidence. The five detainees coming to New York have previously indicated they intend to plead guilty, although the five to be tried before military commissions have not.


The Very Evident Guilt of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri

The US Justice Department yesterday announced that five Guantanamo detainees would finally be moved to New York to face a normal trial, while others, including alleged USS Cole bombing mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, would face not ordinary trials, but military commissions.

Reading between the lines of the officials statements and taking comment pieces into account, it seems that the reason for this is that prosecutors are confident of convicting the five to be sent to New York (who will very probably plead guilty, so there won’t be a trial), but not so sure they could convict al-Nashiri.

I was pretty surprised by this decision, and would simply like to highlight some evidence indicating al-Nashiri’s guilt that, in my opinion, is very strong and would very probably be admissible in a normal court. Primarily, this is the statement al-Nashiri made at his military commission hearing in spring 2007 (and presumably similar statements he would have made to FBI investigators in Guantanamo Bay).


November 12, 2009

Successful FOIA Requests (Updated, November 2009)

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 4:22 am
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This is a reposting, with one more document obtained being added at the bottom of the Catcher’s Mitt section. For a list of unsuccessful FOIA requests see here.


More Very Partial FOIA Success

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 4:10 am
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The FBI has sent me a largely uninteresting cover letter in response to an FOIA request filed when your grandfather was a small boy. The letter was originally sent in 2003 with a report about an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) into FBI abuse of the so-called “wall” procedures, which regulated information sharing between intelligence agents on one side and prosecutors and criminal agents on the other.

Together with the cover letter, the report totals 244 pages, but will not be forthcoming from the FBI. As it was done by the OPR, it should come to me from the DoJ. The bureau also sent me a six-page list of the other page numbers (3 to 244, understandably) and next to each number is the text “Referral/direct.” If you don’t believe they could do anything this pointless, see here.

At the bottom of a fairly confusing letter from the FBI that came with the cover letter for the report, it says:

The 242 pages withheld from the enclosed file originated with the Department of Justice and were referred to that agency for their review and direct response to you. Due to an administrative error, these pages have not previously been forwarded.

I take this to mean that they only just sent the DoJ the other 242 pages to review for redaction. This despite the fact that on 10 May 2007, 9 August 2007, and 16 June 2008 the bureau wrote to assure me, “Currently your request is being reviewed by an analyst.” One can only wonder what the analyst was reviewing for over 14 months. All she had to do, apparently, is send me a two-page cover letter and pop the rest of the report in the internal post. How can that take more than a few minutes?

Whereas most FOIA requests generate an instant demand for money, followed by a long silence, this request (which was for other documents as well, and some of them have already been produced) led to a bewildering array of correspondence and much amusement on my part.

You can find a list of unsuccessful FOIA requests here, and a list of successful ones here.

November 11, 2009

Dan Schulz, RIP

Filed under: community — Max @ 11:09 pm
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This is an entirely personal blog post, and has almost nothing to do with the Commons. But for this case, I’m gonna exercise executive privilege.

A friend passed away the other day, Dan Schulz. You can read the tributes to his memory and his legacy on the SitePoint forum.


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