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
Tags: ,

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.

Memos of Interviews

(-) A December 2003 memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of former NSA Deputy Director for Operations Rich Taylor. The memo discusses his career, post-Cold War reorganisation, relations with the CIA, counterterrorism, a lack of linguists and analysts, international co-operation among the “Five Eyes,” co-operation with the FBI and DEA, his firing by General Michael Hayden (on a plane back from a conference), sharing raw data, and other issues.

According to the memo, there were “several smoking guns” regarding 9/11, but, “even if NSA had done a good job, other agencies could have messed up.”

Taylor said that when the NSA intercepted information relevant to the DEA, it would report the fact of the communication to the DEA, but not provide content information. The DEA then had to submit a separate request for the content.

The DEA had created “a wall between intelligence and law enforcement, and between leads and investigative material, and these walls were never penetrated. In contrast, the FBI allowed penetration of these walls all of the time.”

The Millennium plot, the arrest of Ahmed Ressam in December 1999 and “use of airplanes” are mentioned, but the section on al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit is entirely redacted.

(-) A November 2003 memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of an unnamed NSA manager. The memo discusses the manager’s career, NSA liaison relations, especially with Britain and Canada, and other issues.

(-) A May 2004 NSA briefing on interactions between it and the CIA. Much of the memo is redacted and some of the non-redacted sections lack context. It discusses, counterterrorism, the “war on terror,” relations with the CIA, exchanges of CIA/NSA personnel, and other issues.

It says that at some point there was a female CIA Counterterrorism detailee at the NSA, but she left and was not replaced due to a lack of resources, confirming an account in the CIA inspector general’s report on 9/11.

There is a redacted reference to a person who is evidently former CIA bin Laden unit chief Michael Scheuer, who was “passionate about his mission,” but with whom NSA had a “problematic relationship.”

(-) A January 2004 memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of NSA Deputy Director William Black. The memo discusses his career, the Korean War, the functions of intelligence, the post-Cold War era, counterterrorism, the Trailblazer programme, relations with foreign partners, events on the day of 9/11 and other issues.

The memo says, “Theoretically by buying a company they also bought a congressman in whose district a company resides,” although it is unclear if this approach was ever implemented.

(-) A December 2003 memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of former NSA Deputy Director Barbara McNamara. The memo discusses her interview by the 9/11 Congresional Inquiry, her career, NSA’s reorganisation after the cold war, counterterrorism, relations with the CIA, information sharing, the NOFORN requirement, the budget process, relations with Congress, the appropriate role of the DCI and other issues.

The memo says: “She does not recall being personally (asked) to provide about transcripts or raw data…. But sharing of raw data is not done routinely by NSA unless they get a specific request for a specific item. She said that she does not remember people asking for raw data, but if they wanted it NSA would have provided it….” This has been contradicted by former CIA bin Laden unit chief Michael Scheuer, who says he asked the NSA, and McNamara specifically, for intercepts of calls to al-Qaeda’s operations centre in Yemen, but was turned down repeatedly. The commission interviewers also asked her about a meeting when Deputy CIA DIrector John Gordon complained about lack of sharing of raw data, but “she respnded that she has no memory.” She also complained about the lack of CIA detailees sent to the NSA.

(-) A November 2003 memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of an unnamed NSA manager. The memo discusses the manager’s career, the agency’s internal workings, resource tradeoffs, modernisation, counterterrorism work, and other issues.

(-) A November 2003 memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of an unnamed NSA manager. The memo discusses the manager’s career, counterterrorism in general, foreign liasions and other issues.

Although she worked on threats around the Millennium, she has “no memory” of al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, although the NSA reported it to the CIA and FBI and she had daily conference calls with the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC).

She says the CTC wanted raw data, but says it could not be provided. She says the problem was that it first had to be minimised to get rid of US persons (note: this is not true, the NSA hardly ever sent the CTC raw data).

(-) A November 2003 memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of an unnamed NSA employee. The memo discusses his career, during which he was the NSA representative to the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center in 1995-96, and how current counterterrorism operations work in the intelligence community.

He was “surprised” by 9/11, although, “He had actually been following the threats throughout the summer of 2001 and knew there was an operation in the works and was still surprised.”

(-) A memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of an unnamed NSA employee. The employee was the agency’s representative to the FBI before 9/11. The memo discusses his career, co-operation with the bureau and the NSA’s view of the “wall.”

The employee says that after al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, section chiefs “sat down the the CIA, FBI and NSA information briefings.” The NSA report that Khalid Almihdhar would travel to Malaysia is also mentioned.

(-) A memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of NSA manager Chris Ingliss. The memo discusses his career, resource allocation, internal re-organisation of the agency, counterterrorism, and other interviews.

(-) A memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of an unnamed NSA employee. THe memo describes the employee’s career, and her work on counterterrorism.

The employee states that after the attacks in 2001, the agency did a “9/11 retrospective” the purpose of which was to “insure they knew everything they had.”

(-) A memo drafted by the 9/11 Commission about an interview of NSA manager William Crumm. The memo describes Crumm’s career and current job, as the NSA’s representative for the European theatre. He talks about internal NSA problems with resource allocation, counterterrorism, co-operation with the military and the organisation of the intelligence community.

Other Documents

(-) Some e-mails sent between the 9/11 Commission and the National Security Agency in 2003. They discuss briefing requests and documents. The Defense Department apparently wanted document requests for the NSA to be routed through it, although the commission’s executive director, Philip Zelikow, did not like this.

(-) Various 9/11 Commission documents about its investigation of the NSA:

(1) Miscellaneous correspondence about the NSA’s Trailblazer and Groundbreaker programs, document requests and briefings;

(2) Withdrawal notices about terrorist tracking and, document requests;

(3) The principles for the commission’s review of NSA documents, which say that the commission’s executive director Philip Zelikow will designate staffers to review NSA documents;

(4) A memorandum of understanding between the commission and the NSA saying, in addition to other things, that some staffers can review the material the NSA provided to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry; and

(5) A memorandum of understanding between the NSA and the Congressional Inquiry.

(-) A cover letter sent by the NSA to the 9/11 Commission in October 2003. The letter was with a list of NSA staff in specific positions that the commission may want to interview.

(-) An August 2003 letter from 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton to NSA Director Michael Hayden. The letter asks for greater cooperation from the NSA in providing documents the commission has already asked for. Also a letter from the commission’s counsel Daniel Marcus to NSA employee Karen Valentine saying which documents the commission thinks are most important.

(-) An August 2003 letter from 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton to NSA Director Michael Hayden. The letter asks for greater cooperation from the NSA in providing documents the commission has already asked for. Also a letter from the commission’s counsel Daniel Marcus to NSA employee Karen Valentine saying which documents the commission thinks are most important and a withdrawal notice for for a 2-page letter from Vito Potenza to the commission’s Executive Director Philip Zelikow about document requests.

(-) An internal 9/11 Commission e-mail about its handling of NSA SIGINT assessments. Also a withdrawal notice for a 2-page letter about a document request submitted to the NSA.

(-) Draft document requests drafted by the 9/11 Commission in mid-June 2003, together with an internal commission e-mail. The document requests are:

(1) Number 1 to the NSA. It asks for counterterrorism reports for specific periods, finished intelligence products about al-Qaeda, after-action reports for significant terrorist attacks, and other documents. It does not ask raw intelligence.

(2) Number 3 to the Pentagon. It asks for information about the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, correspondence with the CIA, counterterrorism and other issues.

(3) Number 1 to the Senate Intelligence Committee. It asks for material related to counterterrorism and other issues.

(4) Number 1 to the House Intelligence Committee. It asks for material related to counterterrorism and other issues.

(5) Number 1 to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It asks for material related to counterterrorism and other issues.

(6) Number 1 to the House Appropriations Committee. It asks for material related to counterterrorism and other issues.

Withdrawal Notices

(-) Two withdrawal notices from the 9/11 Commission’s files. One for eight pages of NSA comments on the commission’s Terrorist Travel monograph, the other for a draft of the monograph.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 6-page memo on a September 2003 interview of an unnamed NSA employee by the 9/11 Commission.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a July 2003 9/11 Commission letter about document request no. 1 submitted to the NSA.

(-) A e-mail request from 9/11 Commission lawyer Steve Dunne to NSA employee Karen Valentine for a copy of a draft memorandum of understanding between the NSA and 9/11 Congressional Inquiry.

(-) A withdrawal notice for 9 pages of handwritten notes taken by a 9/11 Commission staffer about a meeting with NSA representatives.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 52-page intelliegence telegram, apparently concerning the NSA.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 15-page NSA cable about extremist training camp facilitator Abu Zubaida.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 6-page NSA cable.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 2-page letter from NSA employee Karen Valentine to 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow about a document request filed by the commission.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 4-page letter sent between the 9/11 Commission and the NSA.

Withdrawal Notices for Memos of Interivews

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 8-page memo of a January 2004 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 5-page memo of a November 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 6-page memo of a November 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 10-page memo of an October 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 10-page memo of an October  2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 4-page memo of a January 2004 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 10-page memo of a January 2004 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 21-page memo of a May 2004 9/11 Commission interview of NSA employees.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 7-page memo of a November 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 9-page memo of a December 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 3-page memo of an undated 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 7-page memo of a March 2004 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 14-page memo of a December 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 6-page memo of a November 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

(-) A withdrawal notice for a 5-page memo of a November 2003 9/11 Commission interview of an NSA employee.

The masterlist for all documents the History Commons has obtained and is analysing can be found here.

3 Comments »

  1. […] 9/11 Commission Documents about the NSA. […]

    Pingback by 9/11 Commission Documents Masterlist « History Commons Groups — November 28, 2009 @ 2:39 am | Reply

  2. […] the memo was published and the HC Groups blog summarised the contents of some 9/11 Commission documents concerning the NSA, the blog was contacted by a […]

    Pingback by NSA Drafted ‘Retrospective’ on 9/11 Failings after Attacks « History Commons Groups — December 4, 2009 @ 1:56 am | Reply

  3. […] The most senior NSA official interviewed by the 9/11 Commission with a memo of interview in the recently released batch is undoubtedly Barbara McNamara. She joined the agency in 1963 and held a series of senior […]

    Pingback by NSA Deputy Director: What Al-Qaeda Meeting? « History Commons Groups — December 15, 2009 @ 2:38 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: