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August 26, 2011

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.

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

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

The Two Statements of Tenet, Black and Blee


In response to the Richard Clarke interview, George Tenet, Cofer Black and Richard Blee issued a two versions of joint statement disputing what he said. The first version, dated August 3, was sent to the makers of Who Is Rich Blee? The second, altered version was first sent to Philip Shenon of the Daily Beast. The alterations reflect the fact that the Who Is Rich Blee? team, with a little help from yours truly, pointed out various inaccuracies in the first statement.

Here is the August 3 version:

Richard Clarke was an able public servant who served his country well for many years. But his recently released comments about the run up to 9/11 are reckless and profoundly wrong.

Clarke starts with the presumption that important information on the travel of future hijackers to the United States was intentionally withheld from him in early 2000. It was not.

He wildly speculates that it must have been the CIA Director who could have ordered the information withheld. There was no such order. In fact, the record shows that the Director and other senior CIA officials were unaware of the information until after 9/11.

The handling of the information in question was exhaustively looked at by the 9/11 Commission, the Congressional Joint Inquiry, the CIA Inspector General and other groups.

The 9/11 Commission quite correctly concluded that “…no one informed higher levels of management in either the FBI or CIA about the case.”

In early 2000, a number of more junior personnel (including FBI agents on detail to CIA) did see travel information on individuals who later became hijackers but the significance of the data was not adequately recognized at the time.

Since 9/11 many systemic changes have been made to improve the watchlisting process and enhance information sharing within and across agencies.

Building on his false notion that information was intentionally withheld, Mr. Clarke went on to speculate–which he admits is based on nothing other than his imagination–that the CIA might have been trying to recruit these two future hijackers as agents. This, like much of what Mr. Clarke said in his interview, is utterly without foundation.

Many years after testifying himself at length before the 9/11 Commission and writing several books but making no mention of his wild theory, Mr. Clarke has suddenly invented baseless allegations which are belied by the record and unworthy of serious consideration.

We testified under oath about what we did, what we knew and what we didn’t know. We stand by that testimony.

Here is the August 11 version:

Recently an edited video of an October 2009 interview with former NSC official Richard Clarke surfaced.  In the video, Mr Clarke appears to make some serious
but totally unsubstantiated charges.  The following is a joint statement from former CIA Director George Tenet, former Chief of CIA’s Counterterrorist Center
Cofer Black and former senior CIA official Richard Blee who are all mentioned in the video tape.

Richard Clarke was an able public servant who served his country well for many years. But his recently released comments about the run up to 9/11 are reckless and profoundly wrong.

Clarke starts with the presumption that important information on the travel of future hijackers to the United States was intentionally withheld from him in early 2000.  It was not.

He wildly speculates that it must have been the CIA Director who could have ordered the information withheld. There was no such order. In fact, the record shows that the Director and other senior CIA officials were unaware of the information until after 9/11.

The handling of the information in question was exhaustively looked at by the 9/11 Commission, the Congressional Joint Inquiry, the CIA Inspector General and other groups.

The 9/11 Commission quite correctly concluded that “It appears no one informed higher levels of management in either the FBI or CIA about the case.”

In early 2000, a number of more junior personnel (including FBI agents on detail to CIA) did see travel information on individuals who later became hijackers but the significance of the data was not adequately recognized at the time.

Since 9/11 many systemic changes have been made to improve the watchlisting process and enhance information sharing within and across agencies.

Building on his false notion that information was intentionally withheld, Mr. Clarke went on to speculate–which he admits is based on nothing other than his imagination–that the CIA might have been trying to recruit these two future hijackers as agents.  This, like much of what Mr. Clarke said in his
interview, is utterly without foundation.

Many years after testifying himself at length before the 9/11 Commission but making no mention of his wild theory, Mr. Clarke has suddenly invented baseless allegations which are belied by the record and unworthy of serious consideration.

We testified under oath about what we did, what we knew and what we didn’t know. We stand by that testimony.

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.

January 23, 2010

Additional Information and Possible Correction about Richard Blee


One thing that has been puzzling me for some time is the reorganisation that took place at the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center in the first part of 2000. We know that at some time between January and July 2000 Alec Station was merged into a larger group that was formed at this time. We know this because it says so in the DoJ IG report, on page 231-232. We can now figure out the name of this group.

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October 24, 2009

Photo of the Station Chief as a Young Man

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 8:41 am
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One of the people this blog focuses on is Richard Blee (timeline of activities here), who was part of–and appears to have headed–a group of CIA officers and others who, in the run-up to 9/11, withheld information from the FBI, in particular the agents investigating the USS Cole bombing.

During my various googlings, I have found a picture of him. Here it is:

(warning: this is a big graphic)

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September 11, 2009

Identity of CIA Officer Responsible for pre-9/11 Failures, Tora Bora Escape, Rendition to Torture Revealed

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Document Collection — kevinfenton @ 1:52 am
Tags: , , ,

The name of the CIA officer who ran Alec Station, the agency’s bin Laden unit, in the run-up to 9/11 can be revealed. Known by a variety of aliases in the media until now, such as “Rich” in Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars, “Richard” in the 9/11 Commission report and “Rich B” in George Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm, his real name is Richard Blee.

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