Richard Clarke – the top Bush and Clinton counter-terrorism czar – alleges that there was a high-level decision in the CIA to suppress key information regarding two Al Qaeda hijackers inside the U.S:
Clarke theorizes that top CIA brass tried to recruit the hijackers and turn them to our side, but were unsuccessful. And – when they realized had failed – they covered up their tracks so that the FBI would not investigate their illegal CIA activities , “malfeasance and misfeasance”, on U.S. soil.
It’s not just Clarke. Many high-level government counter-terrorism experts doubt the CIA’s version of events.
Hijackers’ Phones Were Tapped
The phones of two hijackers Clarke is talking about – Mihdhar and Hazmi – were tapped by the NSA. As I reported in 2008:
I’ve previously pointed outthat the U.S. government heard the 9/11 plans from the hijackers’ own mouth. Most of what I wrote about involved the NSA and other intelligence services tapping top Al Qaeda operatives’ phone calls outside the U.S.
However, it turns out that the NSA was also tapping the hijackers’ phone calls inside the U.S.
Specifically, hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi lived in San Diego, California, for 2 years before 9/11. Numerous phone calls between al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego and a high-level Al Qaeda operations base in Yemen were made in those 2 years.
The NSA had been tapping and eavesdropping on all calls made from that Yemen phone for years. So NSA recorded all of these phone calls.
Indeed, the CIA knew as far back as 1999 that al-Mihdhar was coming to the U.S. Specifically, in 1999, CIA operatives tailing al-Mihdha in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, obtained a copy of his passport. It contained visas for both Malaysia and the U.S., so they knew it was likely he would go from Kuala Lumpur to America.
The above information comes from James Bamford, the Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings for almost a decade – where he won a number of journalism awards for his coverage national security issues – whose articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including cover stories for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and is the only author to write any books (he wrote 3) on the NSA.
PBS subsequently confirmed reported on the story. As I noted in 2009:
Raw Story summarizes the PBS revelations:
Author James Bamford looked into the performance of the NSA in his 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, and found that it had been closely monitoring the 9/11 hijackers as they moved freely around the United States and communicated with Osama bin Laden’s operations center in Yemen. The NSA had even tapped bin Laden’s satellite phone, starting in 1996.
PBS also found that “the 9/11 Commission never looked closely into NSA’s role in the broad intelligence breakdown behind the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. If they had, they would have understood the full extent to which the agency had major pieces of the puzzle but never put them together or disclosed their entire body of knowledge to the CIA and the FBI.”
In a review of Bamford’s book, former senator and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey wrote, “As the 9/11 Commission later established, U.S. intelligence officials knew that al-Qaeda had held a planning meeting in Malaysia, found out the names of two recruits who had been present — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — and suspected that one and maybe both of them had flown to Los Angeles. Bamford reveals that the NSA had been eavesdropping for months on their calls to Yemen, yet the agency ‘never made the effort’ to trace where the calls originated. ‘At any time, had the FBI been notified, they could have found Hazmi in a matter of seconds.’”
Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer told PBS, “None of this information that we’re speaking about this evening’s in the 9/11 Commission report. They simply ignored all of it.”
Not only was then-Director Michael Hayden never held accountable for the NSA’s alleged failure, but he went on to oversee the Bush administration’s vast expansion of domestic surveillance. In 2006, he was appointed as director of the CIA.
And since the NSA reports directly to the White House, the whole allegation that “turf wars” between the different intelligence agencies caused 9/11 holds no water. In reality, the NSA and other intelligence services conveyed sufficient information to the White House to stop 9/11, but the White House ignored it and shut down further investigation.
Other Hijackers Lived With FBI Informant
As if this were not interesting enough, an FBI informant rented a room to the two hijackers in 2000 … and when the Congressional 9/11 Joint Inquiry attempted to speak with the informant, the White House ordered the FBI to hide him.
As I noted last year:
Investigators for the Congressional [9/11] Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House.
As the New York Times notes:
Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence . . .
* * *
The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.
In his book “Intelligence Matters,” Mr. Graham, the co-chairman of the Congressional inquiry with Representative Porter J. Goss, Republican of Florida, said an F.B.I. official wrote them in November 2002 and said “the administration would not sanction a staff interview with the source.” On Tuesday, Mr. Graham called the letter “a smoking gun” and said, “The reason for this cover-up goes right to the White House.”
And see this Newsweek article.
Multiple Cover Ups and Obstructions of Justice
There are numerous other examples of obstruction of justice into the 9/11 investigation, including:
- The chairs of both the 9/11 Commission and the Joint Inquiry of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into 9/11 said that government “minders” obstructed the investigation into 9/11 by intimidating witnesses
- The 9/11 Commissioners concluded that officials from the Pentagon lied to the Commission, and considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements
- The tape of interviews of air traffic controllers on-duty on 9/11 was intentionally destroyed by crushing the cassette by hand, cutting the tape into little pieces, and then dropping the pieces in different trash cans around the building as shown by this NY Times article (summary version is free; full version is pay-per-view) and by this article from the Chicago Sun-Times
Indeed, the 9/11 Commissioners themselves are disturbed by the cover ups and obstructions of justice:
- The Commission’s co-chairs said that the CIA (and likely the White House) “obstructed our investigation”
- 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .”
- 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”
- 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”
- The Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) – who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry – said “At some level of the government, at some point in time…there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened“. He also said “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.”