by Scott Shane, New York Times, August 26, 2011
WASHINGTON — In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former F.B.I. agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda.
The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the C.I.A. missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the F.B.I. information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript. And he gives a detailed, firsthand account of the C.I.A.’s move toward brutal treatment in its interrogations, saying the harsh methods used on the agency’s first important captive, Abu Zubaydah, were unnecessary and counterproductive.
Neither critique of the C.I.A. is new. In fact, some of the information that the agency argues is classified, according to two people who have seen the correspondence between the F.B.I. and C.I.A., has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.
Continue reading here.
The key sentence is: “The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the C.I.A. missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the F.B.I. information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript.” Looks like Soufan is finally going to say publicly what I gather he has thought privately for some time.
This is the second reaction piece I wrote to the Richard Clarke allegations. It was published at Boiling Frogs on August 12 – Kevin.
Recent allegations made by former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke against former CIA Director George Tenet and two other former CIA managers, Cofer Black and Richard Blee, have thrown one of the key unanswered questions of 9/11 into sharp relief. What happened at Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, after an officer there discovered that two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi,had entered the US?
The officer, Margaret Gillespie, says she made the discovery on August 21 and the record indicates she began to notify the FBI and other government agencies on this day. However, while a substantial amount of information has been made public about how the news circulated around the FBI, almost nothing is known of how Alec Station dealt with it.
In an interview recently broadcast as a trailer for the forthcoming audio documentary “Who Is Rich Blee?” Clarke alleged that the CIA had deliberately withheld from him information about Almihdhar and Alhazmi—in particular the news that Almihdhar had a US visa—for over twenty months before 9/11. Clarke also highlighted the importance of the information, saying it was more important than, for example, any of the key pieces of intelligence discussed at a controversial meeting with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001.
Continue reading here.
This was the first of two response pieces I wrote following the Richard Clarke allegations. It was published at 911truth.org on August 11 – Kevin.
Following the airing of allegations by former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke that the CIA deliberately withheld from him information about Pentagon hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, former CIA director George Tenet, former CIA Counterterrorist Center chief Cofer Black and Richard Blee, a mid-level agency official who occupied two key counterterrorist positions before 9/11, have responded with a joint statement.
Clarke said that information about the two men was deliberately withheld from him in January 2000, at the time of a key al-Qaeda meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which the CIA monitored. Clarke alleged that, based on his knowledge of how the CIA works, Tenet authorised the deliberate withholding. Clarke added that the information was clearly important in the summer of 2001, when the CIA knew that Almihdhar was in the country and, in the words of one of Blee’s former deputies, was “very high interest” in connection with the next al-Qaeda attack. However, the CIA continued to withhold some information from both Clarke and the FBI.
Mark Rossini, one of Blee’s former subordinates at Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, has previously admitted deliberately withholding the information from the FBI. According to Rossini, in early January 2000 he and a colleague, Doug Miller, knew they should notify the FBI that Almihdhar had a US visa and presumably intended to soon visit the US. Miller even drafted, but did not send, a cable informing the FBI of Almihdhar’s visa. However, Rossini says he and Miller were instructed by a female CIA officer known as “Michael” and Blee’s deputy, Tom Wilshire, to withhold the information.
Continue reading here.
This was the other main story that reacted to the Richard Clarke allegations – Kevin.
by Philip Shenon, the Daily Beast
In a new documentary, former national-security aide Richard Clarke suggests the CIA tried to recruit 9/11 hijackers—then covered it up. Philip Shenon on George Tenet’s denial.
With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks only a month away, former CIA Director George Tenet and two former top aides are fighting back hard against allegations that they engaged in a massive cover-up in 2000 and 2001 to hide intelligence from the White House and the FBI that might have prevented the attacks.
The source of the explosive, unproved allegations is a man who once considered Tenet a close friend: former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who makes the charges against Tenet and the CIA in an interview for a radio documentary timed to the 10th anniversary next month. Portions of the Clarke interview were made available to The Daily Beast by the producers of the documentary.
In the interview for the documentary, Clarke offers an incendiary theory that, if true, would rewrite the history of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that the CIA intentionally withheld information from the White House and FBI in 2000 and 2001 that two Saudi-born terrorists were on U.S. soil—terrorists who went on to become suicide hijackers on 9/11.
Continue reading here.
This was the best press reaction to the Richard Clarke allegations and was published on August 11 – Kevin Fenton.
by: Jason Leopold, Truthout
With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 just a month away, the intelligence failures leading up to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have started to attract fresh scrutiny from former counterterrorism officials, who have called into question the veracity of the various government probes that concluded who knew what and when.
Indeed, an exclusive report recently published by Truthout based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and an interview with a former high-ranking counterterrorism official showed how a little-known military intelligence unit, unbeknownst to the various investigative bodies probing the terrorist attacks, was ordered by senior government officials to stop tracking Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s movements prior to 9/11.
And now, in a stunning new interview scheduled to air on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado tonight, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, for the first time, levels explosive allegations against three former top CIA officials – George Tenet, Cofer Black and Richard Blee – accusing them of knowingly withholding intelligence from the Bush and Clinton White House, the FBI, Immigration and the State and Defense Departments about two of the 9/11 hijackers who had entered the United States more than a year before the attacks.
Clarke also accused the former CIA officials of engaging in a cover-up failing to disclose to Congress and the 9/11 Commission key details about the two hijackers.
Continue reading here.
At the same time as I was finishing Disconnecting the Dots, a couple of other people, primarily Ray Nowosielski and John Duffy, were working on a similar project that is to be released on September 11, 2011. It will have the form of a podcast documentary called Who Is Rich Blee? and covers a lot of the same ground, but adds new information.
The project was launched a couple of weeks back during a discussion about 9/11 Press for Truth on a PBS station, when they premiered a segment containing an interview with former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, here:
What Clarke says tallies with some of what is in Disconnecting, although a major point of departure is that Clarke comes to the conclusion that CIA Director George Tenet and Counterterrorist Center Chief Cofer Black knew what was going on, whereas I argue in Disconnecting that they were not.
This article was originally posted at Boiling Frogs Post:
Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the numerous “20th hijackers,” was arrested ten years ago next Tuesday, outside the Residence Inn in Eagan, Minnesota. The arrest was one of the first events in a case that gave the FBI a chance to blow open the 9/11 plot, but resulted in abject humiliation for the bureau when its headquarters’ string of errors was exposed in the press.
The Moussaoui case is a poster boy for the state of our knowledge about the attacks: we have some of the details, but know some are missing. Also, two key questions remain unanswered. This despite the wealth of information that came out at the trial and the fact that Moussaoui, although largely ignored by the 9/11 Commission’s final report—partly due to the forthcoming trial—was a major topic of the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s pre-attack failings.
These are the bare bones of the case: Moussaoui had been a known extremist for years prior to his arrest. Before the bureau first heard his name on August 15, he had been under surveillance by French and British intelligence and the CIA, although the agency would claim it only knew him under an alias. He was sent to the US for flight training by alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, possibly to participate in 9/11, possibly to participate in a follow-up operation. However, he was a poor student and dropped out of basic flight school before obtaining a licence and went to learn about flying a Boeing 747, which aroused suspicion.
Carry on reading here.
Scott Horton recently interviewed Steve Hendricks, who has just published a book about the CIA’s rendition of Abu Omar from Milan to Egypt in 2003. The thing that strikes me as most intriguing about the case is the reasoning for Abu Omar’s kidnap. This is Hendricks’ take:
Abu Omar was almost certainly a terrorist but, as you say, of middling or even lowish rank and without imminent plans to attack. Because the Italians had him under thorough surveillance, they almost certainly would have been able to arrest him if his plans changed, and in any case they were going to arrest him in a month or two when they had gotten all the intelligence they could from his cell. In other words, there was no reason at all to render him, even by the CIA’s own criteria, which amounted to getting the “worst of the worst” off the streets before they could do serious harm.
The most convincing theory to explain why the CIA snatched Abu Omar is that the agency’s chief of station in Italy, Jeff Castelli, wanted a promotion. After September 11, renditions were all the rage in the CIA. Station chiefs around the world were collecting scalps. Several Italians and Americans who worked with Castelli believe he convinced Langley to approve the rendition by exaggerating the threat Abu Omar posed and denigrating the Italians’ monitoring of him. Castelli had boosters at Langley who were grooming him for a higher post, and at least one or two of them were among those who weigh the merits of proposed renditions and approved or denied them. Probably Castelli’s boosters were overly eager to help their man get his scalp.
A lesson here is that although we think of the CIA as a spy agency, it is also—I might even argue it is foremost—a bureaucracy, and its bureaucrats have most of the motivations of bureaucrats elsewhere. Sure, they work for the good of their country as they perceive it, but they’re also looking out for themselves, and career often trumps country. The opportunity for mischief is all the greater because the CIA has very successfully fought off outside oversight and hidden its sins under the opaque cloak of national security.
I have to say that I don’t buy this for a second, but I can’t really come up with something that is much better. Here’s a simple question that bugs me: why pick Abu Omar? If any old low-to-middle-ranking militant would do, why did Castelli pick Abu Omar?
The AP today published a story identifying the CIA officer who tried to scare al-Qaeda leader Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri with a gun and power drill by the alias “Albert.” It also mentions that “Albert” had previously worked for the FBI as a translator in New York, as well as other nuggets of information such as the fact he later left the agency and returned as a (presumably better paid) contractor.
Upon reading this, I could not help but recall that we may have come across this guy before in another, similar context. From Jane Mayer’s Dark Side, regarding the CIA taking militant training camp manager Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi away from the FBI:
… Several days into what the FBI regarded as winning al-Libi’s trust, a young Arabic-speaking CIA officer named “Albert,” who had previously worked for [FBI agent Jack Cloonan] Cloonan at the FBI as a junior language specialist, burst into the cell where [FBI agent Russell] Fincher was questioning al-Libi and started shouting at the prisoner. “You’re going to Egypt!” he yelled. “And while you’re there, I’m going to find your mother and f*ck her!”
Mayer says that “Albert” is “young,” whereas the AP story gives his age as 60 (meaning he would have been 51 in 2001), so that’s not right, but the fact that the aliases are identical–and the AP story hints that “Albert” might be his real first name–and the fact that both Alberts were previously FBI translators in New York lead me to believe that both Alberts may be the same guy (and let’s not forget both of them had a penchant for methods that some might describe as overly aggressive).
I had previously speculated that the Albert who threatened al-Libi was Andrew Warren (a young and, apparently, also crazy CIA officer in Afghanistan at that time), but this speculation now appears to be completely wrong. Nevertheless, I am gratified that two of the people we have been writing about have turned out to be not two people, but one person. I suspect that as we learn more about what has being going on, there will be more and more of this.
The CIA has got back to me about the Tenet ‘We Are at War’ memo with amazing speed. I had filed an FOIA request for the memo a few weeks ago. Instead of saying they couldn’t find it, wanted me to pay thousands of dollars to look and then probably wouldn’t give it to me anyway, they’re telling me they have found it (somebody else has already asked), they only want 10 cents a page for copying (I thought you were supposed to get some pages free?) and won’t give it to me anyway (and won’t definitely tell me they won’t give it to me anyway for a very long, but indeterminate period of time). This is real progress!
Anyway, this is the actual text of the CIA’s reply:
We are currently processing a request for the same records from another requester. Once our research and review of that request is completed, we will forward to you the same CIA-originated records, if released. We will charge you ten cents per page for copies of the relased material. We have a substantial backlog, which we are working diligently to reduce, so we are unable to estimate when we will complete our review. However, we will notify you once the processing of the original request is complete.