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Kevin Fenton's blog
CIA Criminal Revolving Door: CIA Officer “Albert” Involved in False Intelligence Linking Al-Qaeda to Iran, Iraq
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During the investigations of the plotters, Albert drafted a series of official cables that were later withdrawn.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According to Soufan, one of the twelve withdrawn cables falsely stated that the group of terrorists later arrested for the Millennium Plot in Jordan was linked to Iran. Albert’s reasoning for this was that the group had trained in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, an area of high activity by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. Therefore, the group in Jordan had to be working with Hezbollah and be backed by Iran.
by Kevin Fenton, 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 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
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.
by: Jason Leopold, Truthout
With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 just a month away, the intelligence failures leading up to the 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 official government narrative that concluded who knew what and when.
Indeed, recently Truthout published an exclusive report based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and an interview with a former high-ranking counterterrorism official that 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 made available to Truthout that is 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. Moreover, Clarke says the former CIA officials likely engaged in a cover-up by withholding key details about two of the hijackers from the 9/11 Commission.
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 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.
The largest group of entries added to the 9/11 Timeline over the last couple of weeks concerns military exercises and the day of 9/11. FAA training exercises in December 2000 included scenarios "close to the 9/11 plot," and there was a Boeing 767 FAA hijack exercise in the summer of 2001, as well as a simulated suicide terrorist attack against New York two days before 9/11, and a mock Cuban hijacking the next day. Early on the day of the attacks, numerous aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base were participating in a training exercise, and controllers at Reagan National Airport failed to notify the Pentagon of the approach of Flight 77.
Most of the entries published over the last couple of weeks are about video and audio messages released by al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri. We have a call+for+jihad+in+Somalia from January 2007, a request+for+media+questions from December of that year, and a call+for+revenge for Israeli attacks in Gaza the following March. This was followed by his answers to the questions in two parts, the last of which was a platform for him to claim the rumors Israel was behind 9/11 were planted by the nefarious mullahs of Tehran.
July 2001 Communication between KSM and Bin al-Shibh Intercepted, Later Obtained by Moussaoui Prosecutors
Kevin Fenton has updated this article; visit the original via the link at the bottom - loose nuke
A July 2001 telephone call between alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and 9/11 coordinator Ramzi bin al-Shibh was intercepted, apparently by the NSA. Prosecutors and FBI agents working on the Zacarias Moussaoui case later obtained detailed information about the call, and shared it with the 9/11 Commission.
DC Air National Guard on 9/11, The Many Deaths of Osama bin Laden – Updates to the 9/11 Timeline as of February 3, 2010
After a hiatus of a couple of weeks, dozens of new entries have been published in the 9/11 Timeline over the last few days. The largest chunk of them covers events at the DC Air National Guard, based at Andrews Air Force Base, on the day of the attacks. Initially, officers assumed that the first crash into the WTC was an+accident. However, after the second crash, Andrews learned the Secret Service wanted+fighters+launched. Although the Secret Service then said it didn't on the phone, pilots started overwriting recent+exercise+data on their flight disks.
The vast majority of entries published by the 9/11 Timeline over the past couple of weeks concern the elusive Osama bin Laden. First, there are entries about audio recordings he has reportedly released over the last couple of years, about the+Muhammad+cartoons, Palestine, Palestine+again, Gaza, Israel, the badness+of+Barack+Obama, US+policy, and Afghanistan.
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.
The most senior NSA official interviewed by the 9/11 Commission with a memo of interview in the recently released batch is undoubtedly Barbara McNamara. She joined the agency in 1963 and held a series of senior management positions, culminating in being deputy director from 1997 to 2000, before being put out to pasture as the NSA’s representative to London.
This is quite the most remarkable passage of the memo:
She does not recall being personally [asked] to provide about transcripts or raw data for [counterterrorism]. NSA has analysts posted across the community. But sharing of raw data is not done routinely by NSA unless they get a specific request for a specific item. She said that she does not remember people asking for raw data, but if they wanted it NSA would have provided it, particularly if they were called by the [CIA Director] or [Deputy CIA Director] or [Assistant CIA Director for Collection].
Three entries recently published in the 9/11 Timeline cover films with 9/11-style themes made before the attacks. 1977's ''Black Sunday'' had terrorists crashing an explosive-laden+blimp into the Superbowl stadium, 1996's ''Executive Decision'' featured a planned suicide+attack+with+a+commercial+jet, and a late 2001 Chuck Norris vehicle originally entitled ''The President's Man: Ground+Zero'' was too close to real events for comfort and CBS refused to air it.
Elsewhere, al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri was unsurprisingly+unimpressed with Barrack Obama, two of the 9/11 hijackers asked+a+neighbour+for+their+towel+back shortly before the attacks, and some of the 2006 "liquid bomb" plotters were convicted in Britain in September, although others were acquitted. Their alleged leader Rashid Rauf was hit by a drone last year, although doubts about his death persist.
Finally, some Democrats kicked+up+a+stink after the famous August 6 Presidential Daily Brief item was made public in 2002, former CIA agent Larry Kolb thought the US was less+safe+than+ever in 2007, and alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four associates expressed a desire to plead+guilty+to+charges+against+them in military commissions late last year.
Reposted from here.
Maher Osseiran, who has written about Osama+bin+Laden and his many+videos, recently wrote a rather scathing critique of David Ray Griffin’s Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? I had planned to write about the book at more length, but, sparked by Osseiran’s article, I figure I’ll address one issue now.
In chapter 2, “Two Fake Bin Laden Videos in 2001,” Griffin discusses a recording that he calls the “October Video,” in which bin Laden makes statements some people regard as incriminating concerning the 9/11 attacks. Griffin points out that the contents of the video were previewed in the British media, but that when British Prime Minister Tony Blair then referred to them in a speech, he did not release the video.
The National Security Agency drafted a "9/11 Retrospective" following the 2001 attacks, according to a document recently released by the National Archives.
Although an unclassified version of the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s performance before 9/11 was published in full in 2006 and the executive summary of a parallel report by the CIA inspector general was released in 2007, this is the first known mention of any NSA review about its failings before the attacks.
The document released by the National Archives is an undated memo of an interview conducted by the 9/11 Commission of an unnamed NSA manager. The manager served as a congressional liaison in the late 1990s and then as a counterintelligence chief from 2000 to 2003. The memo was released last week and was also uploaded to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd by History Commons contributor Erik Larson.
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:
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.
US Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that five detainees would be moved from Guantanamo Bay to New York, where they would stand trial for carrying out the 9/11 attacks. However, five other detainees will continue to be tried before military commissions, which have lower standards of evidence. The five detainees coming to New York have previously indicated they intend to plead guilty, although the five to be tried before military commissions have not.
The New York five are:
The FBI has sent me a largely uninteresting cover letter in response to an FOIA request filed when your grandfather was a small boy. The letter was originally sent in 2003 with a report about an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) into FBI abuse of the so-called “wall” procedures, which regulated information sharing between intelligence agents on one side and prosecutors and criminal agents on the other.
Together with the cover letter, the report totals 244 pages, but will not be forthcoming from the FBI. As it was done by the OPR, it should come to me from the DoJ. The bureau also sent me a six-page list of the other page numbers (3 to 244, understandably) and next to each number is the text “Referral/direct.” If you don’t believe they could do anything this pointless, see here.
Documents newly found at the National Archives show that in the weeks before the 9/11 Commission issued a subpoena for tapes of events at the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) on the day of the attacks, it told the military not to send some or all of them to the commission. The documents are internal commission e-mails and a memo, as well as communications between the commission and the military. They were found at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson (a.k.a. paxvector) and posted to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd.
Amalgam Virgo: Document Reveals Details of Military Exercise Involving Suicide Pilot Three Months before 9/11
New details of a NORAD exercise called Amalgam Virgo 01-02 have been found in a document at the National Archives. The exercise involved a suicide pilot attacking a military installation in the US. It was run in early June 2001, just three months before 9/11.
The document was found in the 9/11 Commission’s files at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson (a.k.a. Paxvector) and uploaded to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. Some information about the exercise was revealed at the History Commons Groups blog in June, when we publicised a commission document summarising a group of military exercises designed to help the military deal with suicide hijackings. However, the newly-found three-page scenario provides more detail.
Destruction of Flight Controllers’ Tape, Day of 9/11 – Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of November 4, 2009
One of the main focuses at the 9/11 Timeline recently has been the destruction of a tape of FAA flight controllers' recollections. The tape+was+made at the FAA's New York Center about an hour and a half after the attacks ended, despite worries about the procedure by a union official and the controllers. However, when New York Center forwarded evidence about the attacks to the FBI the next day, it did+not+provide+the+tape, and its existence was not+reported+to+superiors.
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 fully involved in the case.
As people who follow the issue closely are aware, there has been some debate over the involvement of a group of military officers stationed at FAA headquarters--generally referred to as the "military cell"--in the events of 9/11. Although I don't mean to recap the whole debate here, the basic jist is that the 9/11 Commission claimed that the military were unaware of the hijacking of United 93 until a few minutes before it crashed, but what about the military cell--were they too unaware of what was going on?
Yesterday, I was reading through the commission documents we have posted at the 911 Document Archive at Scribd , and I came across a transcript of FAA communications on the day of 9/11. You can find the following at page 59 (approximately 9:45 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.):
MR. : Tactical Net--
MR. : And this is Cleveland Center. Who's up?
MR. : It is the Command Center with about five or six people listening.
MR. : Okay. Mr. [inaudible], the chief, just asked if we have any military up or not? Are we pursuing that? We'd like to be able to track this guy (United 93) so we know what's going on, especially when we lose a transponder.
MR. : We have been in contact with the military cell here in the building and they're working the issue. I'm not sure where they are with--
As ABC+news confirmed yesterday, alleged lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed+Atta attended a Florida mosque run by Gulshair+Shukrijumah, a radical Islamist imam. Although ABC revealed key new details, including that an FBI informer had been interested in Atta, but had been pulled away from him by his handlers, public information previously indicated Atta and fellow alleged hijacker pilot Marwan+Alshehhi had attended the mosque. Based on this, in early 2007 I wrote an entry in the 9/11 Timeline called “Atta+and+Alshehhi+Attend+Florida+Mosque,” which put together a comment in the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report and media accounts.
Today saw the eighth anniversary of 9/11 and, as usual, there were a slew of articles. The most interesting was this+one on ABC, which probably requires three posts to digest fully. I have previously expressed extreme scepticism at some of the statements reportedly made by alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) under waterboarding and other torture, and this report further confirms my suspicions he told his interrogators a pack of lies, which they and then the 9/11 Commission believed to an unhealthy extent.
The ABC article is about an FBI mole who had penetrated a radical mosque in Florida. It begins:
Identity Of CIA Officer Responsible For Pre-9/11 Failures, Tora Bora Escape, Rendition To Torture Revealed
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.
Blee was a key figure in the pre-9/11 intelligence failures, the CIA station chief in Afghanistan when Osama bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora and instrumental in setting up the Bush administration’s rendition and torture policies.
I confirmed Blee’s identity in this document, notes drafted by a 9/11 Commission staffer, apparently in preparation of the drafting of the final report. The notes were found along with thousands of other 9/11 Commission files at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson, who uploaded them to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. I previously blogged other interesting aspects of the notes here and here.
Blee is mentioned several times in the 9/11 Commission’s files, but his name is always redacted, as it has been in the media until now. However, in one case the people doing the redactions let it slip past them.
The title of a 2003 Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) item indicates that by late 2003 the CIA had concluded it would be hard for al-Qaeda to pull off another 9/11. The item was entitled “Terrorism Complexities Make Repeating September 11 Difficult” and was circulated to top policy officials on December 16, 2003.
The precise circulation of SEIBs varied from administration to administration, but they were usually seen by officials such as the secretary of state, attorney general, vice president and others of similar rank. SEIB items are often used as presidential daily brief items, so it is likely that President George Bush also saw the information in mid-December 2003.
The title of the SEIB item was found in a 9/11 Commission document at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson, who uploaded it to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. The document is 83 pages of notes by a staffer apparently brainstorming ideas for the final report. The SEIB item title can be found on page 27 of the notes.
One of the biggest pieces of news in the last couple of weeks has been the release of the CIA inspector general's report into the usefulness, or rather lack thereof of its torture techniques. It has been practically everywhere, but one thing that has been lost is that there were a whole bunch of supporting documents released from the inspector general’s investigation. One of these caught my eye in particular.
It is a memorandum drafted by an inspector general employee about a 16 July 2003 interview of a female CIA officer who appears to be very involved in the agency’s rendition and torture programme.
The officer said the agency judged the success of the programme by "the quality of the information" detainees provide. The report adds:
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.