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.
I recently had the misfortune to read Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and the Origins of 9/11 by Amy Zegart. I have to say it is the very worst book I have ever read abut 9/11. It was even worse than this one, which, as you can appreciate, is difficult, and it was way, way worse than this one, this one and this FBI press release. I haven’t read this one yet, and I anticipate it will be a lot, lot worse even than Zegart’s attempt, but you never know.
Basically, Zegart takes the 9/11 Commission’s no-fault thesis to the nth degree by claiming the whole thing was systemic failure and holding no individual accountable for his or her failures.
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.
The Real News Network recently carried an interview of former FBI lawyer Coleen Rowley by Paul Jay (part 1, part 2 and part 3), dealing with what it called the “unanswered questions about the lead up to 9/11.” Rowley was stationed at the bureau’s Minneapolis office during the Zacarias Moussaoui case in August and September 2001, but later became a whistleblower and left the organisation.
While many aspects of the interview are good and interesting, it leaves out what is probably the most important known fact about the Moussaoui case: the identity of the most senior FBI headquarters official involved fully involved in the case.
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.
A document recently found in the National Archives shows that the CIA station in Yemen knew that al-Qaeda leader and USS Cole bombing mastermind Khallad bin Attash had attended the organisation’s Kuala Lumpur summit. However, other information proves that the Yemen station never communicated this to the FBI, even though it was working closely with FBI investigators into the Cole bombing. This raises questions as to why the CIA station in Yemen failed to pass this information on and whether this failure was part of a wider agreement to withhold information from the bureau.
The document, found at the archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson (a.k.a. paxvector) and uploaded to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd, is a set of comments by the CIA’s Office of General Counsel on a draft section of the 9/11 Commission’s staff statement 10, Threats and Responses in 2001.
I have found a photograph of Tom Wilshire, the CIA officer involved in pretty much all the pre-9/11 intelligence failings. It is here. I don’t reproduce it here for reasons of copyright, although I guess I could claim fair use. The photo was taken when he testified to Congress about the al-Qaeda threat in late 2001.
I have to say he looks a lot older than I thought he was, but I guess people never seem the way you imagine them.
Over the last few months, former diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott has published a series of articles about one of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, and the parallels between his handling by Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, and events in the 1960s, such as an apparent CIA operation involving Lee Oswald, John Kennedy’s alleged assassin. They are Deep Events and the CIA’s Global Drug Connection, The JFK Assassination and 9/11: the Designated Suspects in Both Cases and The Assassinations of the 1960s as “Deep Events”.
It was recently revealed that Tom Wilshire, a deputy chief of Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, conspired with other officials at the CIA to withhold information from the FBI about Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, who attended al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit and went on to hijack with plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 (blog, event, original). Previously, it was claimed that Wilshire had acted in good faith, but he was only able to come up with a dog-ate-my-homework excuse to cover his blocking of the information for the FBI. As two of his co-conspirators, Doug Miller and Marc Rossini, have confessed, we now know Wilshire was not acting in good faith. Had it not been for this conspiracy, it is highly likely the FBI would have arrested some of the hijackers before 9/11 and thwarted the plot.
It was recently revealed that two FBI agents conspired with Tom Wilshire, the deputy chief of Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, to protect 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi from the FBI while they were in the US. This has several complicated ramifications, but first I would just like to point out what Wilshire knew in the summer of 2001.