History Commons Groups

April 22, 2019

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Government Agencies’ Initial Responses to the Attacks, John O’Neill’s Warnings about Al-Qaeda, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 3:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

A large number of new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, covering a wide range of events relating to the 9/11 attacks. Entries cover, among other things, various warning signs of what was going to happen on September 11, 2001; the actions of John O’Neill, the FBI’s top al-Qaeda expert; and new details of what happened on the day of 9/11.

CIA Was Initially Unsure Which Group Was Likely Behind the Attacks

Many entries describe events that occurred on September 11, 2001. Some of them describe the initial reactions and responses of government and military agencies to the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Top officials at CIA headquarters learned about the first crash during their regular 8:30 a.m. meeting, but they were initially unsure whether the incident was a terrorist attack or an accident. However, Richard Blee, chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, immediately told his colleagues at the Counterterrorist Center at CIA headquarters, “That’s bin Laden or al-Qaeda” when he saw the coverage of the crash on television. Unlike him, though, some analysts at the Counterterrorist Center initially concluded that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, was to blame for the attacks. An article written by CIA analysts published a week or two before then had in fact claimed that Hezbollah was a greater threat to the United States than al-Qaeda.

Later on, Blee asked the FAA liaison at the Counterterrorist Center to provide the CIA with the passenger lists for the hijacked planes, but the liaison refused and so Blee had to ask FBI agents deployed to his unit to see if they could get the lists for him. Consequently, at around 1:00 p.m., CIA Director George Tenet received copies of the lists and he immediately noticed that the list for Flight 77 included the names of two known al-Qaeda members.

Later that afternoon, a few FBI agents in New York were told the names of some suspected hijackers during a conference call with FBI headquarters and one of the agents became enraged when he recognized one of these suspected hijackers as someone the FBI had been investigating.

Government Lawyers Discussed the Terrorist Attacks

After the second crash at the WTC, Timothy Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel, talked on the phone with Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and was told what the Justice Department knew about the crashes, and he was surprised to hear that the FBI was treating them as crimes rather than acts of war.

Later that morning, Flanigan and another White House lawyer discussed whether the president had the legal authority to order the shooting down of a civilian aircraft, and they consulted a lawyer at the Pentagon who told them he did have this authority. That afternoon, Flanigan discussed how the US government could respond to the terrorist attacks with White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Yoo said the president “could take just about any action he wished.”

Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, DC, Bruce Baughman, a senior official with the agency, had to take charge because FEMA’s top officials were away from Washington, attending a conference. At the Pentagon, Defense Intelligence Agency personnel “swung into crisis management” in response to the attacks on the WTC, but they did not evacuate and so a number of them were killed when the Pentagon was attacked, at 9:37 a.m.

However, bomb technicians from the FBI’s New York field office were more fortunate, surviving the attacks because they were away for training that morning, while the one technician who stayed behind in New York died when the WTC collapsed as he was responding to the crashes.

When the Twin Towers came down, the New York field office was rendered unusable and so FBI agents quickly established a makeshift replacement facility at a parking garage in Manhattan, where they were based over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, two FBI agents in Phoenix, Arizona, visited a local flight school to see if any suspicious students had been there recently and the manager immediately gave them the file of Hani Hanjour, the hijacker who reportedly was at the controls of Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon.

Flight 77 Passenger Called Her Husband from the Hijacked Plane

Several new timeline entries describe the attempts by Barbara Olson, a passenger on Flight 77, to call her husband, Ted Olson, the solicitor general of the United States, on the morning of September 11 and her two successful calls from the hijacked plane.

Beginning at around 9:00 a.m., a secretary in Ted Olson’s office at the Department of Justice received a series of unsuccessful calls featuring just an automated message, which were presumably made by Barbara Olson. Barbara Olson’s first successful call, made sometime between 9:15 a.m. and 9:25 a.m., initially reached an operator, who Barbara Olson provided with details of the hijacking before she was connected to her husband’s office. Barbara Olson then talked to Ted Olson and gave him several details of the hijacking, but the call got cut off after about a minute.

Ted Olson promptly called the Department of Justice command center and passed on the information his wife had given to him. Then, at sometime between 9:20 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., he received a second call from his wife in which she gave him further details of the hijacking of Flight 77 before the call got cut off. Subsequently, when Ted Olson saw the television reports about an explosion at the Pentagon, he immediately concluded that his wife’s plane had crashed at the Department of Defense’s headquarters.

Barbara Olson’s calls to her husband were believed to be among four calls from Flight 77 that were recorded as being made to unknown numbers, although there was no “direct evidence” showing this. It is also possible that Barbara Olson called her husband’s number at his old law firm that morning and left voicemail messages for him.

FAA Followed an Unidentified Plane Approaching Washington before the Pentagon Was Hit

A few entries describe miscellaneous events from the day of 9/11.

At FAA headquarters, officials followed an unidentified aircraft–presumably Flight 77, which reportedly crashed into the Pentagon–as it approached Washington and its progress was reported over a teleconference. Around the same time, senior officials in the Executive Support Center at the Pentagon who were discussing how to respond to the attacks on the WTC rejected the idea of evacuating their building.

After the Pentagon was hit, authorities failed to evacuate Secretary of Commerce Don Evans from his office at the Commerce Department in line with “Continuity of Government” plans and so Evans eventually went home of his own accord. And shortly after the Pentagon was attacked, firefighters were sent to the White House after the Secret Service incorrectly reported that a plane had crashed into it.

Later on, personnel in the White House Situation Room learned of a plane supposedly flying toward the US from Portugal that appeared to be hijacked, but it is was subsequently determined that the alleged flight did not exist. And I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, wondered if the recent assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, was carried out as part of the preparations for the day’s terrorist attacks.

Sometime that afternoon, Cheney’s doctors received the results of a blood test, which indicated that the vice president was at serious risk of a heart attack. Despite the apparent danger, Cheney refused to have another blood sample taken that evening, but tests on a sample he gave the following morning showed that the previous test results were incorrect and his health was in fact fine.

Some Officials Warned of the Danger Posed by Al-Qaeda

Numerous new timeline entries cover events that took place in the years before 9/11. Some of them describe incidents that indicated the type of attacks that would occur on September 11 or the predictions of those who foresaw these kinds of attacks.

FBI terrorism experts met after the bombing of the WTC in February 1993 to try and imagine what future terrorist attacks might involve, and they all agreed that these attacks could include multiple hijackings. And in January 2001, an interagency group recommended that federal buildings in Lower Manhattan, where the WTC was located, receive increased protection, due to the threat of terrorism. Also that month, Richard Clarke, the White House chief of counterterrorism, and Dale Watson, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, met senior FBI agents from all around the US and warned them about the threat posed by al-Qaeda.

Furthermore, in April 1995, terrorist conspirator Abdul Hakim Murad gave FBI agents details of plots against the United States while he was being flown from the Philippines to the US, and one possible future attack he mentioned was a second bombing of the WTC.

FBI Counterterrorism Official Repeatedly Warned of the Al-Qaeda Threat

A number of entries describe the actions of John O’Neill, the FBI’s top expert on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Some of these entries deal with warnings O’Neill gave before 9/11 about the danger facing America.

In June 1997, O’Neill gave an extensive speech in which he warned of the threat posed by religious extremist groups, although he made no mention of bin Laden. And in May 2001, following the convictions of four men for their involvement in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he told a colleague that more al-Qaeda attacks were going to occur.

In summer 2001, O’Neill and two other senior FBI officials met New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and presented evidence of an imminent al-Qaeda plot, although they said any attack was most likely to occur outside the US. Around the same time, O’Neill talked to Kerik during an event in Washington and told him something “enormous” was going to happen, but he said it would occur abroad rather than in the US.

Other entries describe events that caused O’Neill to get in trouble with his superiors and led to his early retirement from the FBI in August 2001. O’Neill was placed under investigation after an incident in the summer of 1999, when he violated security protocols by taking his girlfriend to a secret FBI garage and letting her use the bathroom there. In April 2000, he accidentally left his handheld computer, which held the details of his police contacts, at the Yankee Stadium, although a guard was fortunately able to retrieve it for him.

The most serious incident occurred in July 2000, when his briefcase, which contained important classified information, was stolen after he left it unattended during a conference. Just over a year later, the New York Times publicly revealed that the FBI had been investigating O’Neill over this incident.

Hijackers Threatened to Crash a Plane into a Building in the 1970s

A few entries cover miscellaneous events that took place before 9/11. Two entries describe incidents from the 1970s. Organizers of the 1972 Munich Olympics asked police psychologist Georg Sieber to predict worst-case scenarios for the games and one of the scenarios he then came up with involved neo-fascists deliberately crashing a jet aircraft into the packed Olympic Stadium in a suicide attack. Later that year, three men hijacked a commercial airliner and threatened to crash it into a nuclear plant, and authorities subsequently feared they might crash it into President Richard Nixon’s winter home in Florida.

A couple of entries describe training events that took place shortly before 9/11. A coalition of public and private organizations participated in two exercises in the summer of 2001, based on the scenario of a major hurricane hitting Long Island, New York, and these organizations benefited from the experience just weeks later, when they had to respond to the attacks on the WTC. And in July 2001, presumably as part of a training exercise, officials contemplated how they would respond to a chemical terrorist attack in the middle of Washington.

CIA Official Called 9/11 ‘a Triumph for the Intelligence Community’

Finally, a few entries cover events that occurred shortly after 9/11.

The FBI’s New York field office, which usually dealt with al-Qaeda attacks, argued with FBI headquarters over which of them should lead the investigation of the 9/11 attacks and, against precedent, FBI Director Robert Mueller put the headquarters in charge of it.

Three days after 9/11, New York’s Office of Emergency Management opened a massive new operations center at Pier 92 on the Hudson River, since its original operations center was destroyed when WTC Building 7, where it was located, collapsed on the afternoon of September 11.

And, alarmingly, an unnamed high-ranking CIA official told a reporter that be believed Americans would eventually see that “September 11 was a triumph for the intelligence community, not a failure.”

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

July 29, 2017

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: President Bush’s Actions on September 11 and More

A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, most of which provide important details about the actions of President George W. Bush and his entourage on September 11, 2001.

President Bush Visited a School in Florida

President Bush received his daily intelligence briefing early in the morning of September 11, but the briefing included nothing about terrorism. A short time later, numerous members of his staff learned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center as his motorcade headed to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, and yet no one told him what had happened at that time.

Bush was told about the crash for the first time by Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, after his limousine arrived at the school. Subsequently, his senior adviser, Karl Rove, also told him about the crash. However, the president still took his time chatting with members of the official greeting party at the school, even though he was told he had to take an important call from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Secret Service agents who were with the president were unable to obtain any information about the crash at the WTC from their colleagues in Washington, DC, after they arrived at the school. Meanwhile, Mike Morell, Bush’s CIA briefer, called the CIA’s operations center when he reached the school and learned that the North Tower had been hit by a large commercial airliner. But personnel on Air Force One were unable to obtain precise information about what was happening, even after the second hijacked plane crashed into the WTC, at 9:03 a.m., and one officer wondered if a nation-state was behind the attacks.

Despite what had happened in New York, Bush decided to continue with the scheduled event at the school and at 9:02 a.m. entered a classroom to listen to the children there reading. A short time later, Andrew Card, his chief of staff, learned that a second plane had hit the WTC, and immediately thought Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were responsible. Minutes later, Card entered the classroom and told the president that America was “under attack.”

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer then held up a message for the president, instructing him, “DON’T SAY ANYTHING YET.” Bush therefore remained seated and listened to the children reading a story about a pet goat for the next five minutes. Even after the children finished the story, Bush stayed in the classroom to ask them questions and talk to the school’s principal.

Bush’s Staffers Were Concerned that Terrorists Would Attack the School

Major Paul Montanus, Bush’s military aide, wanted the president and his entourage to leave the school when he saw the second crash live on TV, and yet no evacuation took place at that time. And after the second crash occurred, Secret Service agents and other staffers accompanying the president were concerned that Bush could be in danger, with some of them worrying that terrorists might try to attack the school. But even after the reading demonstration ended, Bush was allowed to stay at the school.

Secret Service agents apparently only prepared to get him away from there at around 9:30 a.m. The motorcade only left the school to take the president and his entourage to Air Force One at around 9:34 a.m., more than half an hour after the second attack on the WTC took place.

The Secret Service was concerned that Bush might be attacked by terrorists as he was being driven to the Sarasota airport and provided his limousine with extensive security. During the journey, Bush talked to Condoleezza Rice using a cell phone and she told him the Pentagon had been attacked. The president and his entourage arrived at the airport by around 9:45 a.m. and then boarded Air Force One.

Palestinian Group Reportedly Claimed Responsibility for the Attacks

New timeline entries describe how, around that time, it was reported that a radical Palestinian group called the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) had claimed responsibility for the attacks on the WTC. But a short time later, the group publicly denied being behind the attacks.

Bush asked Mike Morell about the DFLP’s reported claim while Air Force One flew from Sarasota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and Morell said the group lacked the capability to carry out the attacks. Morell then called CIA headquarters, spoke to Cofer Black, director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, and was told by him that the agency knew “little beyond what the rest of the world knew” about the attacks.

As Air Force One approached Barksdale, Ari Fleischer told the reporters on board that Bush was being evacuated “for his safety and the safety of the country.” After the plane landed at the base, a member of Congress on board asked Morell who he thought was behind the attacks on the United States and Morell said he was sure al-Qaeda was to blame. Later on, after the plane took off from the base, Bush asked Morell the same question and Morell again answered that he was certain al-Qaeda was responsible.

While he was at Barksdale, Bush argued with his colleagues about where he should go next and was told it was unsafe for him to return to Washington. At 2:50 p.m., after leaving Barksdale, his plane landed at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where personnel had been preparing for his possible arrival. Remarkably, a local TV channel had people at the base and was therefore able to show live coverage of Air Force One landing there. After getting off his plane, Bush was taken to a command center several stories underground where he was given an update on the attacks.

When Air Force One left Offutt, at around 4:30 p.m., the plane finally headed toward Washington. During the journey to the capital, Morell passed on to Bush all the information the CIA by then had relating to the attacks, which included a warning that a group of al-Qaeda terrorists might be in the US, preparing for a second wave of attacks. Meanwhile, fearing that there could be a biological attack on the US, Dr. Richard Tubb, the White House physician, gave all the passengers on Air Force One a week’s worth of Cipro, a drug used to treat anthrax.

Bush Had Problems Communicating with Washington

Several timeline entries describe the significant problems Bush experienced communicating with his colleagues in Washington while the attacks were underway and throughout the day of 9/11. His attempts at making calls on a secure line while he was being driven from the Booker Elementary School to the Sarasota airport were unsuccessful because all the secure lines were down. And along with his staffers, he had problems communicating with colleagues in Washington after Air Force One left Sarasota.

White House counsellor Karen Hughes tried calling Bush from the capital but, to her alarm, the operator said he was unable to connect her to Air Force One. Additionally, Bush and his staffers were limited in their awareness of the catastrophe that was taking place because the TV reception on the plane was weak and intermittent.

Lives Were Saved by Orders that Kept Police Officers Away from the WTC

A few entries describe incidents that occurred in New York, shortly before and shortly after the first WTC tower collapsed. Numerous members of New York Police Department’s elite Emergency Service Unit avoided dying in the collapse because they were given an order that meant they had to get out of the WTC or delay going into it.

Around the same time, Joseph Morris, a commanding officer with the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), told numerous PAPD officers to initially stay away from the Twin Towers after they arrived near the WTC and thus likely prevented many of them from being killed when the South Tower collapsed, at 9:59 a.m. After the South Tower came down, Morris ordered that the PAPD’s command bus be moved further away from the WTC and thereby likely prevented those in it being killed when the North Tower collapsed, at 10:28 a.m.

Finally, a couple of entries describe events that occurred before September 11. Around late July 2000, the Joint Forces Intelligence Command held a briefing in which the WTC and the Pentagon were identified as the buildings in the US most likely to be attacked by terrorists. And in June 2001, ABC News reporter John Miller gave a speech in which he discussed the growing indications that Osama bin Laden planned to carry out an attack in the US.

Please consider donating to History Commons, to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. To make a donation, click here.

August 26, 2011

C.I.A. Demands Cuts in Book About 9/11 and Terror Fight

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 12:03 pm
Tags: , ,

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.

My comment:

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.

Oh George! You got some ‘splainin‘ to do!

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.

Analysing the CIA Response to Richard Clarke’s Allegations: Who Knew What When?

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 11:56 am
Tags: , , , ,

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.

An Explosive New 9/11 Charge

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.

August 24, 2011

Former Counterterrorism Czar Accuses Tenet, Other CIA Officials of Cover-Up

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.

August 23, 2011

Richard Clarke Interview for ‘Who Is Rich Blee?’

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.

August 21, 2011

Zacarias Moussaoui: What We Don’t Know Might Hurt Us: A Significant Stimulus for the Reform that Never Came

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.

October 19, 2010

Reasoning Behind the CIA’s Italian Job

Filed under: Torture and Abuse — kevinfenton @ 2:00 am
Tags: , , ,

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?

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.