Kevin Fenton's blog

Al-Qaeda in Spain, 9/11 Commission’s Investigation of NSA, Torture – Additions as of April 27, 2008

Al-Qaeda in Spain, 9/11 Commission’s Investigation of NSA, Torture – Additions as of April 27, 2008

Michael Mukasey, Day of 9/11, Osama bin Laden – 9/11 Timeline Additions as of April 20, 2008

More material has been added covering the NSA's surveillance of Ahmed al-Hada, father-in-law of alleged Pentagon hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. Both President Bush and Vice President Cheney used the non-exploitation of calls between his phone in Yemen and the hijackers in the US to justify the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program in January 2006. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell attributed the failure to trace the calls to a 1981 executive order earlier this year, and Mukasey bizarrely then claimed that one of the calls was between the US and Afghanistan, rather than Yemen. This confused the media somewhat, and a group of congressmen asked Mukasey for an explanation.

There are additional entries about the day of 9/11. A senior official later disputed Richard Clarke's account of the day's events, some Pentagon security cameras did not show the crash site, and the fighters who later responded to the Pentagon attack attended anti-terrorism training earlier in the day. There is a dispute over which gate American 11 left from at Boston airport, where suspicious passengers arrived on September 10, when Larry Silverstein's publicist cancelled an appointment at the WTC for 9/11. Other entries point out United 93's autopilot was turned off, top air force officials continued with a meeting when they learned the WTC had been hit, and crew on United 93 had previously attended antiterrorism training. Pilots on American 77, American 11 and United 93, were allocated to their flights shortly before 9/11.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Italy and Canada; Bernard Lewis, Rich B, and Osama bin Laden - Additions as of April 13, 2008

This week's new entries cover a number of varied topics. An address book seized in 1997 provided an opportunity to uncover al-Qaeda cells in Canada, where no action was taken against a founder of al-Qaeda despite evidence against him, although the Pakistani army did at least shoot him dead in 2003. However, his son became an informer for the CIA and uncovered a Bosnian network sending fighters to Iraq

Mukasey: It wasn't Afghanistan

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has admitted that he garbled his claim about the pre-9/11 intercept of a call between an al-Qaeda facility overseas and the 9/11 hijackers in the US last week. Today he told the Senate:

"One thing I got wrong. It didn’t come from Afghanistan. I got the country wrong."
http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2...340778#comments

I have been all over this and I know the other end of the call was in Yemen. Here is the timeline we compiled:
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=complete_911_timeline&projects_and_programs=complete_911_timeline...

This is a huge issue for us. If people knew that the NSA was intercepting calls between the 9/11 hijackers in the US and a phone registered to a guy (Ahmed al-Hada) who had previously helped bin Laden murder about 240 people (including 29 Americans), but didn't bother to trace the calls, what would they think about 9/11?

The 9/11 Commission knew about this, but included only two cryptic references to it in its report. This reflects very badly on the 9/11 Commission.

Victor Bout, Rich B, GWOT, Pakistan and Much More – Additions as of April 5, 2008

This week was a very busy week for the 9/11 Timeline, and dozens of new entries were published. New material, and a new chapter, has been added to cover superstar arms dealer Victor Bout, who was assisted by a former US intelligence officer, was known to the CIA as supplier to the Taliban and al-Qaeda before 9/11, and is said to have transported heroin out of Afghanistan. He sold aircraft to the Taliban and the US created a team of catch him in 1999, but the Bush administration lost interest in apprehending him. Instead, he was hired to help US in Iraq, not once, but repeatedly. Whilst supporting the US in Iraq, he also supported Islamic militants in Somalia and Hezbollah, but was finally arrested last month.

The DOJ comments on the Mukasey controversy

Glenn Greenwald has a new piece out about the Mukasey comments at his blog:

In response to the growing controversy over plainly misleading comments by Attorney General Michael Mukasey last week in San Francisco, and in response to the questions I submitted, the DOJ's Peter Carr, its Principal Deputy Director of Public Affairs, sent me the following email:

In a question-and-answer session after his Commonwealth Club speech last week, Attorney General Mukasey referenced a call between an al Qaeda safe house and a person in the United States. The Attorney General has referred to this before, in the letter he sent with Director of National Intelligence McConnell to Chairman Reyes on February 22, 2008. In that letter, contained in this link [.pdf], the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence explained that:

Continued at link:
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/04/04/doj/index.html

Who Is Margaret Gillespie?

Jon Gold has been kind enough to let me write an introduction to one of his Who Is? series. It deals with Margaret Gillespie, the FBI agent who discovered that two of the 9/11 hijackers were in the US shortly before the attacks:

Margaret Gillespie was an FBI agent who, while detailed to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, was involved in the search for Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi in the summer of 2001. She attended the stormy 11 June meeting between the CIA and FBI and, at the suggestion of CIA manager Tom Wilshire, performed a low-key review of al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, where the CIA let two of the 9/11 hijackers slip through their fingers in early 2000. Because Wilshire only told her to perform the review in her “free time,” she did not find and realise the significance of CIA cables indicating Almihdhar and Alhazmi had entered the US until 21 August 2001 – even though the review started in May. However, she immediately called the FBI, alerting them they should look for the two, and had Almihdhar, Alhazmi, an alias for their associate Khallad bin Attash, and an Iraqi named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir watchlisted on 23 August.

Khalil Deek: “He Couldn’t Get Arrested to Save His Life”

Al-Qaeda operative and suspected mole for Jordanian intelligence and the CIA

Khalil Deek is a naturalised US citizen and an extremist connected to both al-Qaeda and Hamas. There were a number of points in his career when he should have been investigated, arrested, or kept in custody, but the investigations inexplicably ended or even failed to get off the ground. For example, the FBI would normally be expected to take a dim view of a plan to blow up LAX, but Deek’s obvious participation in the Millennium Plot does not seem to have excited the authorities much.

9/11 Commission, Al-Qaeda in Italy, Hijackers - 9/11 Timeline Additions for Week Ending March 30, 2008

New entries this week cover a wide variety of topics. Regarding the 9/11 Commission, members and staff were dismayed by Laurie Mylroie's Iraq-al-Qaeda potboiler, as was a CIA expert who had the misfortune to sit on the same panel as Mylroie, and the Jersey Girls. Staffers were appalled by executive director Philip Zelikow's rewriting of a staff statement to imply Iraqi connections to al-Qaeda, and forced him to back down.

Attorney General Lies about Yemen Hub

Attorney General Michael Mukasey is the latest government official to lie about the Yemen hub calls, which he used as a justification for the NSA's warrantless wiretapping programme. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Before the 2001 terrorist attacks, he said, "we knew that there had been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went. You've got 3,000 people who went to work that day, and didn't come home, to show for that."

BCCI and Terrorism Finance – Additions to 9/11 Timeline as of March 23, 2008

Most entries added to the 9/11 Timeline this week deal with terrorism finance in general and the criminal Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in particular. Between 1979 and 1991, the US government received over 700 tips about criminal activities by BCCI, which repeatedly saved Pakistan from financial ruin and funneled money to A. Q. Khan's nuclear program, but essentially ignored all 700 of them. BCCI dominated the supply chain of CIA supplies and weapons for the Afghan mujaheddin and was also used by the CIA to pay 500 British informants and for another slush fund, of which the CIA failed to notify US customs. The NSC gained a clear picture of BCCI's criminal activities from CIA reports, but a US senator was kept in the dark about them. The Pakistani government allowed drug traffickers to use BCCI, which was linked to Osama bin Laden, and a huge munitions explosion towards the end of the Soviet-Afghan war hid the fact that that money for the mujaheddin was being diverted to A. Q. Khan.

Elsewhere in terrorism finance, an address book recovered in a raid linked an al-Qaeda operative to a Saudi billionaire, the IIRO and the Muslim World League are part of the Saudi government according to testimony, and Persian Gulf sheikhs allegedly gave bin Laden US$ 50 million in a handy single transfer in 1999. The government of Saudi Arabia refused to help capture a key Hezboallah figure in 1996, made little effort to fight terrorism financing before 2002, and was still not properly overseeing charities in 2007. In addition, militant operatives were told to use a prominent Saudi bank and a known terrorism financier was removed from UN and US blacklists when he promised not to do it anymore.

Imam Anwar Al Aulaqi, an associate of Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, was inexplicably allowed to leave the US in 2002, and arrested and let go in Yemen in 2007. The US finally determined he was linked to al-Qaeda in 2008.

Miscellaneous new entries include the US monitoring a "very important source" in Sudan around the time of the 1998 embassy bombings, but letting two of the apparent bombers escape. A 1994 US intelligence report concluded Islamic militants would take power in Egypt, fighters were not ready to launch on 9/11 from Syracuse air base even after 10:00 a.m., the CIA tested an al-Qaeda training camp for chemical weapons in 2001, and an attack on oil facilities in Yemen was foiled in 2006. Finally, Presidents Reagan and Bush facilitated the Islamic bomb by repeatedly and falsely certifying Pakistan did not have a nuclear weapons program, despite knowing that it did.

Originally posted here. Please also bear in mind that the History Commons is in need of donations.

9/11 Timeline Update - Day of 9/11, Hijackers, the Saudi Connection - Additions as of March 16, 2008

There is a ton of new material about the Day of 9/11. There are more entries about the shootdown order, which could have been issued around 9:38 a.m., about 9:50 a.m., after 10:00 a.m., or about 10:18 a.m. Regarding military exercises, some NEADS staff were still unsure whether the day's military exercises had ended at 10:00 a.m., fighters from Otis were recalled from a training mission at about 9:03 a.m. and other jets on training were sent home at about 9:35 a.m. There were communication problems at NORAD and NEADS, which requested help from another air defence section around 10:00, and also for the three pilots scrambled from Langley.

Regarding Flight 93, the Regional Operations Center was notified of the hijack at 9:40 a.m., a business jet was asked to help locate the crash site, and a local farmer flew over the site, taking pictures. President Bush learned of the attack on the Pentagon shortly after it happened and requested security for his family. Otherwise, the fighters from Otis left their holding pattern at 9:13 a.m., Richard Clarke learned of a plane approaching the White House at 9:37 a.m., and a pilot from Langley AFB surveyed the Pentagon just after it was hit. The FAA and military still would not say if jets were launched in the evening, but the CIA's Near East Division figured out bin Laden was behind the attacks when the second plane hit the WTC.

There are also numerous new entries about the 9/11 hijackers, of whom much video footage remains unreleased. There is considerable confusion over the Flight 93 hijackers' arrival at Newark before the attacks--Ziad Jarrah seems to have arrived on three different flights on the same day--Marwan Alshehhi was considered a deserter from the UAE army in April 2000, and Saeed Algahmdi was inconveniently seen in the US before he officially arrived. The hijackers were seen with an unidentified Middle Eastern male just before the attacks and the FBI failed to help a security guard identity the hijackers at Dulles airport. Mohamed Atta's car was queried by police, a warrant for his arrest was issued, but Florida police failed to notice it. Nawaf Alhazmi's rental car was checked by police in New Jersey, but an FBI agent looking for him failed to find entries about him in databases and failed to search a private database for information about him.

There is more material about the "Saudi Connection." Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar allegedly told a US associate they wanted to crash a plane into a building, but Alhazmi correctly suspected that Omar al-Bayoumi, who was seen with Hani Hanjour and in whose apartment the hijackers allegedly stayed, was a Saudi spy. In addition, phone calls suggest a link between the hijackers, al-Bayoumi and an al-Qaeda linked imam, one of the hijackers contacts was deported from the US in 2003, and the Saudis don't want to extradite al-Bayoumi or anyone else.

Regarding the 9/11 Commission, the White House had a better relationship with Democrat Lee Hamilton than his Republican counterpart Tom Kean, who was shocked by the lack of information in Presidential Daily Briefings, whereas fellow commissioner Jamie Gorelick was shocked by the specificity of warnings they contained.

Miscellaneous entries include a visit by British intelligence officials to the US on September 12, 2001, tacit US support for the cancellation of elections in Algeria, and a visit by Taliban leaders to the US. In addition, an al-Qaeda explosives trainer visited Kosovo in 1998, a US solider from the Bosnian war emerged as an al-Qaeda leader in Somalia, and KSM allegedly stayed in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, in 1999. What's more, Richard Clarke thought the US's Achilles heel was in the US itself, bin Laden's main money-handler came to the attention of Canadian intelligence in 1997, and the US lost a Central Asian base in 2005. Finally, hundreds of millions of dollars passed through bin Laden charity fronts during the Soviet-Afghan War, and if you're wondering where the moderates are in Afghanistan, they're all dead - the US-backed mujaheddin killed them.

Originally posted here.

Disconnecting the Dots - How CIA officer Tom Wilshire hid two 9/11 hijackers from the FBI

I have written a summary of the 9/11 Timeline's CIA Hiding Alhazmi and Almihdhar chapter. It begins:

Parts of the story of the CIA’s knowledge of the 9/11 hijackers have trickled out over the years since the attacks, contained in three reports, of the Congressional Inquiry, 9/11 Commission and Justice Department, as well as in books, in particular the Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright, and evidence presented at the trial of Zacarias Moussoaui. When all the information is put together, two conclusions stand out: everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and almost every time something went wrong, the same man was at the centre of the failure: Tom Wilshire, deputy chief of Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, and later CIA liaison to the FBI.

A meeting in Malaysia

9/11 Timeline Obtains Major New FBI Document

“A contributor to the History Commons has obtained a 298-page document entitled Hijackers Timeline (Redacted) from the FBI, subsequent to a Freedom of Information Act request. The document was a major source of information for the 9/11 Commission's final report. Though the commission cited the timeline 52 times in its report, it failed to include some of the document's most important material.

The printed document is dated November 14, 2003, but appears to have been compiled in mid-October 2001 (the most recent date mentioned in it is October 22, 2001), when the FBI was just starting to understand the backgrounds of the hijackers, and it contains almost no information from the CIA, NSA, or other agencies. This raises questions as to why the 9/11 Commission relied so heavily on such an early draft for their information about the hijackers.”

More here:
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/fbi911timeline
(Local mirror of zip file: 7.8 MB)

Summary of what the FBI document reveals:

Yemen Hub - Sumamry of 9/11 Timeline Chapter

I wrote a summary of the Yemen Hub chapter in the 9/11 Timeline. It is about the NSA listening to the hijackers' calls and how their explanation for why they didn't catch the hijackers based on the intercepts doesn't make any sense.

It begins:

Yemen Hub: NSA was listening in on the 9/11 hijackers’ calls for years

And how this became the rationale for the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program

The “Yemen hub” was an al-Qaeda communications hub that fell under US surveillance in the mid-late 1990s and was also home to Khalid Almihdhar, said to have been on the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11. There are still many unanswered questions about the surveillance, such as why were the NSA and its fellow agencies unable to roll up the plot based on the intercepts? And how did it come to be used as the justification for the NSA’s current domestic warrantless program?

You can find it here:
http://www.iraqtimeline.com/blog/