Kevin Fenton's blog
Several entries have been added to the 9/11 Timeline in the past fortnight, in particular concerning tracking of the 9/11 hijackers by Saudi authorities. Nawaf Alhazmi obtained a new passport in Saudi Arabia in March 1999. The passport contained an indicator the Saudi authorities used to track his movements. Alhazmi obtained a US visa with the passport and entered the US with it. Another hijacker, Ahmed Alhaznawi, possibly obtained a passport with the same indicator before November 2000 and then left Saudi Arabia. It has also been suggested that a third hijacker, Ahmed Alnami, had a similar indicator in his passport.
9/11 Commission, Londonistan, and Day of 9/11 - Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of October 19, 2008
Several of this week's new entries focus on the 9/11 Commission, in particular its Executive Director Philip Zelikow, who offered public support for the invasion of Iraq in 2002, but did not want the commission to investigate false claims of links between 9/11 and Iraq. After the commission's investigation started, one staffer was sent to review CIA documents, and another, Warren Bass, was sent to review NSC material. Bass came to favor the account of events in the Bush Administration in the summer of 2001 given by counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke over that given by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. However, Zelikow distrusted Clarke and tried to protect his friend Rice; it was these ties to Rice which caused both Bass and Commissioner Bob Kerrey to threaten to quit the commission, although neither of them made good on their threat.
I have obtained a new document via FOIA request. It is an FAA memo comprising a transcript of calls between various FAA facilities and other institutions on the day of 9/11, and was referenced in the 9/11 Commission Report, in endnote 128 to Chapter 1 (on page 459). It is not spectacularly exciting, but touches on awareness of all four hijacks, in particular the last three. You can find it here.
Author James Bamford was recently interviewed by Amy Goodman about his new book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. He talked about some issues that are covered in the 9/11 Timeline's CIA Hiding Alhazmi and Almihdhar and Yemen hub categories. The interview follows on from an article in the Congressional Quarterly and it is well worth reading the whole thing.
I have some comments on a couple of the aspects Bamford touches on. First, I'd like to say that Bamford is obviously a really good reporter and he's done a much better job on this than anyone who came before him (for example, Terry McDermott knew about the intercepts between San Diego and Sana'a, but relegated this information to the endnotes). Having said this, as far as I can see at the moment, he's making a couple of errors and missing some things out.
Several new entries have been added this week about Osama bin Laden during the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. In 1986, his brother Salem asked the Pentagon to supply him with missiles, but received no reply, although a Pentagon official did later ask Afghan commanders if resources should be diverted to the Arab Afghans. The bin Laden brothers purchased some anti-aircraft missiles in London and, in May, Osama led a group of Arab fighters into Afghanistan, but the mission ended in failure.
Why are the links between alleged Pentagon hijacker Khalid Almihdhar and the USS Cole bombing important? Because, according to recent revelations, officers at Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, protected Almihdhar and his partner Nawaf Alhazmi from the FBI in January 2000, and this protection seems to have continued after this. If the CIA had simply been allowing Almihdhar to operate to see what connections they might uncover, then the Cole bombing showed clearly that this policy had been a complete disaster—a terrorist under their protection participated in the murder of 17 US sailors. However, the CIA continued to protect Almihdhar even after the Cole bombing.
One of the main arguments used by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a key speech on 4 October 2001 that held al-Qaeda responsible for 9/11 was that one of the 19 hijackers “has also been identified as playing key roles in both the East African Embassy attacks and the USS Cole attack.”
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. 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.
A number of other officials connected to Wilshire withheld similar information from the FBI and came up with similar dog-ate-my-homework excuses for not doing so. Given the recent revelations, it is highly likely that they were involved in the same conspiracy as Wilshire, Rossini and Miller. They are:
I just saw this article at the Congressional Quarterly. It is a major, major development:
The FBI has blocked two of its veteran counterterrorism agents from going public with accusations that the CIA deliberately withheld crucial intelligence before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
FBI Special Agents Mark Rossini and Douglas Miller have asked for permission to appear in an upcoming public television documentary, scheduled to air in January, on pre-9/11 rivalries between the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.
The program is a spin-off from The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, by acclaimed investigative reporter James Bamford, due out in a matter of days.
The FBI denied Rossini and Miller permission to participate in the book or the PBS "NOVA" documentary, which is also being written and produced by Bamford,/ on grounds that the FBI "doesn't want to stir up old conflicts with the CIA," according to multiple reliable sources.
Pentagon on 9/11, Shoe Bombing, Bin Laden in the Soviet-Afghan War and More – Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of September 28,
This week, a massive amount of new entries have been added to the timeline, dealing with a whole range of different issues. We will start with the day of 9/11, in particular the Pentagon, which a fire chief warned could be a target nearly 20 minutes before it was hit. The attack itself created confusion by setting off 300 fire alarms, although some medical workers thought the ensuing evacuation was a drill.
About half of this week's new entries concern United Airlines Flight 93. The airline's operations centre sent a message to the plane's co-pilot some minutes before the hijacking, but received no reply; it also notified flights of a crash at the WTC around 9:03 but did not send a warning about possible hijackings at this time. The airline's dispatchers were asked to warn flights at 9:21, the same time Flight 93 sent a routine message to one of the dispatchers. A couple of minutes later, it checked in with Cleveland air traffic control; the pilots then sent their last last message at 9:27.
Most new entries this week focus on Londonistan and British intelligence informer Abu Hamza, who improperly obtained British citizenship in 1986. After gaining control of Finsbury Park mosque, he helped recruit a would-be shoe bomber, Saajid Badat, as well as another suicide bomber who had advanced training at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Badat and fellow shoe bomber Richard Reid traveled to Afghanistan to meet the bombmaker after the US invasion started, but Badat later backed out of the plot.
Many of the new entries in the 9/11 Timeline this week focus on the 9/11 Commission and, in particular, its executive director Philip Zelikow, who co-authored a book with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in the mid-1990s, but was not offered a full-time job in the Bush administration despite serving on the transition team. Some of the other commissioners were unhappy with Zelikow's appointment and the degree of control he exercised. For example, Zelikow had control over the hiring process, which he used to appoint a current CIA officer to lead the commission's investigation of the CIA.
The main focus in the 9/11 Timeline this last week has been the anthrax attacks. There was some material about them in the Timeline at one point, but it got lost somehow. It has now been revived and new material has been added. The first anthrax mailing was in 1997, when the target was the Jewish service organization B'nai B'rith, and the CIA investigated the possibility of anthrax attacks using letters in 1999. Wrongly accused scientist Steven Hatfill's contract with USAMRID ended in the same year, and he then started helping the US military build a mock biological weapons factory. White House staff started taking anti-anthrax drugs on 9/11.
The FBI has just released a bunch of evidence it thinks is bad for Bruce Ivins in the anthrax case. You can find a report about it here.
There are several new points against Ivins. Let's look at them one by one:
(1) He sent e-mails saying Osama had anthrax and sarin (not actually true) and that he decreed death to all Jews and all Americans. This is apparently similar to the wording in the anthrax-carrying letters, which said "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." This is actually the first point in the NYT story today.
You have got to be kidding me - we are talking about the period shortly after 9/11, everybody thought Osama wanted death to America and was writing e-mails about it. This is hardly damning. Google "Death to America" and see how many hits you get.
(2) The envelopes used for the letters were bought in Maryland or Virginia.
That's just in no way conclusive, although if there were a prize for the most circumstantial evidence, it might just win.