History Commons Groups

March 19, 2010

The Secret Coded Indicator in 9/11 Hijackers’ Passports: ‘Holy Capital’?

The “secret coded indicator” of “terrorist affiliation” placed in some of the 9/11 hijackers’ passports by Saudi authorities appears to have been a special reference to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca. Islam’s holiest city is sometimes known as “Holy Capital,” a term used to describe the passports of two of the hijackers containing the indicator in 9/11 Commission documents found at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson.


February 15, 2010

Miscellaneous: Pre-9/11 Intelligence Community, Total Information Awareness

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 7:38 am
Tags: , , ,

These are just some interesting quotes I found in a 9/11 Commission proposal for reforming the intelligence community:

Currently, as various current and former OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] and CMS [CIA’s Community Management Staff] officials confirm, neither the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] nor the staff of the Secretary of Defense get access to detailed budget execution information from the defense intelligence agencies [i.e. NSA, DIA and others]. It is not clear how this remarkable arrangement evolved, but logic suggests that each staff neutralized the other and the agencies cultivated autonomy in the ensuing void.


Under Title 10, the military departments’ and defense agencies’ acquisition programs are under the direction and authority of senior acquisition executives, who in turn are to report to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition. The Service Chiefs, Service Secretaries, and defense agency directors are not in the chain of command when it comes to managing acquisition programs. Yet, the directors of the defense intelligence agencies have operated as though they had been delegated acquisition management authority by the Secretary of Defense, and all parties have essentially ignored the law.

And lastly:

On the other side, opponents of data mining are equally determined to prevent any use of this technology, under any circumstances. This group, too, for its own reasons also strongly opposes any attempt to develop policy and guidelines to safeguard privacy during data mining operations because any step down what they see as a slippery slope leads inexorably to Big Brother. Thus far, these opponents of data mining have won the day in public battles over the Total Information Awareness program; both chambers of Congress voted by very wide margins across the political spectrum to prohibit the operational use of the program’s technology. However, other ambitious data mining programs exist that either have not come to the attention of opponents or have found other means to survive.

February 13, 2010

July 2001 Communication between KSM and Bin al-Shibh Intercepted, Later Obtained by Moussaoui Prosecutors

A July 2001 telephone call between alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and 9/11 coordinator Ramzi bin al-Shibh was intercepted, apparently by the NSA. Prosecutors and FBI agents working on the Zacarias Moussaoui case later obtained detailed information about the call, and shared it with the 9/11 Commission.


January 21, 2010

9/11 Commission Documents about KSM (updated 17 March 2010)

This post lists documents related to the 9/11 Commission’s investigation of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM). 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.


January 18, 2010

One Lie from KSM’s Confessions

One feeling I have always had from reading KSM’s confessions, or rather the information that has slipped through to the media from them, is not only that he was lying, but that he was lying in specific ways. First, he seems to me to have been lying for the usual reason of telling his torturers what he thought they wanted to hear to get them to stop torturing him. Second, he seems to have been lying for the specific purpose of benefiting his associates.


December 15, 2009

NSA Deputy Director: What Al-Qaeda Meeting?

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 management positions, culminating in being deputy director from 1997 to 2000, before being put out to pasture as the NSA’s representative to London.

This is quite the most remarkable passage of the memo:

She does not recall being personally [asked] to provide about transcripts or raw data for [counterterrorism]. NSA has analysts posted across the community. 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, particularly if they were called by the [CIA Director] or [Deputy CIA Director] or [Assistant CIA Director for Collection].

This was flatly contradicted by Michael Scheuer, the former chief of the CIA’s Alec Station.


December 4, 2009

NSA Drafted ‘Retrospective’ on 9/11 Failings after Attacks

The National Security Agency drafted a “9/11 Retrospective” following the 2001 attacks, according to a document recently released by the National Archives.

Although an unclassified version of the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s performance before 9/11 was published in full in 2006 and the executive summary of a parallel report by the CIA inspector general was released in 2007, this is the first known mention of any NSA review about its failings before the attacks.


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.


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.


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