Posted at the History Commons Groups
by Kevin Fenton
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.
Philip Shenon’s The Commission highlighted the memo and one controversial section in particular. The section says:
Interactions with commissioners can be helpful to you and them. If you are contacted by a commissioner with questions, please contact Chris [Kojm, Zelikow’s deputy] or me. Consulting with the Chair and Vice-Chair, we will be sure that the appropriate members of the Commission staff are responsive.
Shenon called this provision, channelling contacts between the staff and the commissioners through Zelikow and his deputy, “unusual” and “worrying to the staff.” He added:
It occurred to several of the staff members, especially those with experience on other federal commissions, that Zelikow was trying to cut off their contact with the people they really worked for–the commissioners. Democratic commissioner Jamie Gorelick saw a copy of Zelikow’s memo and was furious. Through an arrangement with her law firm, she intended to spend nearly half of her work week on commission business, and she was not going to have Zelikow telling the staff that they could not speak freely with her–that they had to wait to get his… Continue reading
by Kevin Fenton
Introduction to Chapter 15 of Disconnecting the Dots , for publication at 911Truth.org :
In January 2000, several high-ranking al-Qaeda operatives, including alleged Flight 77 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, held a summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was monitored by the CIA and a local Malaysian service, although the agency reportedly failed to exploit this opportunity to learn what bin Laden’s organization was planning. In addition, the CIA deliberately withheld information about the two men, in particular that Almihdhar had a US visa, from the FBI. The agency then allegedly suffered the misfortune of losing Almihdhar, Alhazmi and another al-Qaeda operative in Bangkok, Thailand. The surveillance of the Malaysia summit was run by Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, its chief Richard Blee and his deputy Tom Wilshire. On January 12 and 14 Blee gave his superior, Cofer Black, incorrect briefings about what was happening with the surveillance. Chapter 15 picks up the story on January 15.
I know nobody read that cable
After the CIA allegedly lost Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Khallad bin Attash in Bangkok, it asked the Thais… Continue reading
Just one of the Legacies of 9/11
by Kevin Fenton Boilingfrogs
Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn’t know they were here, until it was too late.
The authorization I gave the National Security Agency (NSA) after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time.
-President Bush, December 17, 2005
In the aftermath of 9/11, reams of newsprint were given over to discussing the CIA and FBI failures before the attacks; the agency had some of the hijackers under surveillance and allegedly lost them, the bureau was unable even to inform its own acting director of the Zacarias Moussaoui case. However, the USA’s largest and most powerful intelligence agency, the National Security Agency, got a free ride. There was no outcry over its failings, no embarrassing Congressional hearings for its director. Yet, as we will see, the NSA’s performance before 9/11 was shocking.
It is unclear when the NSA first intercepted a call by one of the nineteen hijackers. Reporting indicates it began listening in on telephone calls to the home of Pentagon hijacker Khalid Almihdhar’s wife some time around late 1996. However, although Almihdhar certainly… Continue reading
by Kevin Fenton
Published at 911truth.org
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… Continue reading
By Kevin Fenton
Although the story of the CIA’s actions in the run-up to 9/11 is complicated, at a fairly early point in any examination of them it becomes clear the agency committed multiple failures, and that these failures enabled the attacks to go forward. The key issue that remains in dispute ten years on is whether these “failures” were deliberate or simply the product of overwork and incompetence. Making an informed judgment means taking the time to look at all the failures, put them in order, and analyze what it all means.
Perhaps the most comprehensible problem is the scope of the CIA’s failings. There was not one error by some lowly neophyte, but a massive string of failures. As Tom Wilshire, one of the key CIA officials involved in the withholding of the information commented to the Congressional Inquiry, “[E]very place that something could have gone wrong in this over a year and a half, it went wrong. All the processes that had been put in place, all the safeguards, everything else, they failed at every possible opportunity. Nothing went right.”
In addition, some of the failures were extremely serious. For example, the alleged failure by Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, to inform CIA Director George Tenet that Flight 77 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar was in the country in August 2001 is simply beyond comprehension. Added to this, the failures were committed by a small group of intelligence officers, centered on Wilshire and his… Continue reading
CIA Criminal Revolving Door: CIA Officer “Albert” Involved in False Intelligence Linking Al-Qaeda to Iran, Iraq
by Kevin Fenton
Reprimanded for Torture, Retired, then Back to CIA as a Contractor
A recent book by former FBI agent Ali Soufan shows that the same CIA officer was involved in generating intelligence that falsely linked al-Qaeda to first Iran and then Iraq. The officer was also involved in a notorious torture episode and was reprimanded by the Agency’s inspector general.
The officer, who Soufan refers to as “Fred,” but whose real first name is “Albert” according to a February 2011 Associated Press article, served at the CIA station in Jordan in 1999. During that time, al-Qaeda, aided by a collection of freelance terrorists headed by Abu Zubaidah, attempted to commit a series of attacks in the country, known as the Millennium Plot. However, the attacks were foiled by the local Jordanian intelligence service, working with the CIA and FBI.
During the investigations of the plotters, Albert drafted a series of official cables that were later withdrawn. Although the withdrawing of the cables was first mentioned in a July 2006 article by Lawrence Wright for the New Yorker, Wright did not mention what was in the cables or by whom they were drafted. The content of one of them and the drafter were first revealed upon the publication of Soufan’s book in mid-September 2011.
According to Soufan, one of the twelve withdrawn cables falsely stated that the group of… Continue reading
by Kevin Ryan
In the summer of 2001, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Robert Wright, a counterterrorism expert from the Chicago office, made some startling claims about the Bureau in a written statement outlining the difficulties he had doing his job. Three months before 9/11, he wrote: “The FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens at home and abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort on the part of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected terrorists residing within the United States.”
Revelations since 9/11 have confirmed Wright’s claims. FBI management did little or nothing to stop terrorism in the decade before 9/11 and, in some cases, appeared to have supported terrorists. This is more disturbing considering that the power of the FBI over terrorism investigations was supreme. In 1998, the FBI’s strategic plan stated that terrorist activities fell “almost exclusively within the jurisdiction of the FBI” and that “the FBI has no higher priority than to combat terrorism.”
A number of people are suspect in these failures, including the leaders of the FBI’s counterterrorism programs. But at the time of Wright’s written complaint, which was not shared with the public until May 2002, the man most responsible was Louis Freeh, Director of the FBI from 1993 to 2001.
Agent Wright was not FBI leadership’s only detractor, and not the only one to criticize Freeh.…Continue reading