History Commons Groups

November 12, 2009

Successful FOIA Requests (Updated, November 2009)

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 4:22 am
Tags: , , ,

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.

Hijackers Timeline

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 one party to the call was in the US.

FAA Calls on Day of 9/11

After this comes a transcript of calls involving FAA facilities and other organisations on the day of 9/11, which you can find here (summary here). The calls provide information about the FAA’s awareness of the hijacked flights. For example, the military liaison at New York Center was informed of the hijacking of Flight 175 at about 9:02 a.m., one minute before it crashed into the World Trade Center; the FAA and American Airlines discussed the hijacking of Flight 77 for a third time before it hit the Pentagon; and United Airlines called the FAA some time around 10:00 a.m. and claimed Flight 93 was over Hagerstown, Maryland, although it allegedly crashed in Pennsylvania some time before it reached Hagerstown.

Catcher’s Mitt

The next three documents 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 third is a cover letter for a report by the DoJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility into the errors. Apparently, the rest of this report will be forthcoming.

USS Cole Bombing

There is also a set of documents pertaining to 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.

There are still several FOIA requests outstanding, so hopefully some more news in the not-too-distant future.


  1. […] can find a list of unsuccessful FOIA requests here, and a list of successful ones here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)How to Retrieve Your Juvenile Recordsto file […]

    Pingback by More Very Partial FOIA Success « History Commons Groups — November 12, 2009 @ 4:25 am | Reply

  2. According to NARA, 42 new MFR’s will be online around Thanksgiving.

    Comment by Mike — November 13, 2009 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  3. I have received reliable information that a police witness was asked questions about 9/11 at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) in 1994.

    Any person in the world is entitled to make an FOI Act request to the Metropolitan police in London and ask them for any and all documents that they have pertaining to 9/11, partcicularly those documents they had in 1994.

    This can be done quickly and easily on their website.

    Comment by Cozy drummer — May 15, 2010 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

    • Maybe you’d care to explain how someone could be interrogated in 1994 about attacks that took place in 2001. Unless Mr. Peabody carried out the attacks with his boy Sherman…?

      Comment by Max — May 15, 2010 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  4. […] list of successful FOIA requests can be found here and unsuccessful ones here. Leave a […]

    Pingback by New FOIA Request: Compensation Payments Made to 9/11 Commissioners « History Commons Groups — June 21, 2010 @ 1:18 am | Reply

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