Kevin Fenton's blog

CIA Officer claims they thought hijackers were GID

This appeared today at the 9/11 Timeline:

Around 1997-September 11, 2001: Hijackers Almihdhar and Alhazmi Supposedly Work for Saudi Intelligence

After 9/11, an unnamed former CIA officer who worked in Saudi Arabia will tell author Joe Trento that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar were allowed to operate in the US unchecked (see, e.g., Early February-Summer 2000 and Late May-December 2000) because they were agents of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency. “We had been unable to penetrate al-Qaeda. The Saudis claimed that they had done it successfully. Both Alhazmi and Almihdhar were Saudi agents. We thought they had been screened. It turned out the man responsible for recruiting them had been loyal to Osama bin Laden. The truth is bin Laden himself was a Saudi agent at one time. He successfully penetrated Saudi intelligence and created his own operation inside. The CIA relied on the Saudis vetting their own agents. It was a huge mistake. The reason the FBI was not given any information about either man is because they were Saudi assets operating with CIA knowledge in the United States.” [Stories That Matter, 8/6/2003]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, Central Intelligence Agency

9/11 Commissioners Junk Official Account, Endorse Conspiracy Theory

The official account of the arrest of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is that it was made in Rawalpindi by Pakistani security forces on Saturday, 1 March 2003.

However, due to a whole grabbag of discrepancies in the official account, many conspiracy theorists have speculated that, while KSM may well be in custody, the story of his actual arrest is entirely fictional and he was probably arrested elsewhere, earlier.

Thankfully, 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton have now cleared the matter up. In their new book "Without Precedent" they put an end to speculation:

"Khalid Skeikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot, was captured in an early 2003 raid on a Karachi apartment orchestrated by the CIA, the FBI and Pakistani security services." (p. 115)

Well, that's that, the "Rawalpindi arrest" story should surely be dead now.

Cheney shoots Hayden in the foot over wiretapping

VP Dick Cheney recently justified the NSA's "domestic wiretapping program" by saying:

"If you'll recall, the 9/11 Commission focused criticism on the nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists at home and terrorists overseas. The term that was used is "connecting the dots" -- and the fact is that one small piece of data might very well make it possible to save thousands of lives. If this program had been in place before 9/11, we might have been able to prevent it because we had two terrorists living in San Diego, contacting terrorist-related numbers overseas. The very important question today is whether, on five years' reflection, we have yet learned all the lessons of 9/11."

The two terrorists in question are American 77 hijackers Khalid Al Mihdhar and Nawaf Al Hazmi. The terrorist-related number (why does he use the plural, what other number?) is 00 967 1200578, an Al Qaeda communications hub in Sana'a, Yemen. Unfortunately for Cheney, he forgot that one of the main things the administration is trying to cover up about 9/11 (for example the 9/11 Omission Report does not mention them) is that Al Hazmi made calls from the US to the hub and that the NSA intercepted them, as the hub was one of its hottest targets. So thanks for the slip, Dick.

DCI Tenet Lied Under Oath About CIA Knowledge of Hijackers

The CIA freely admits that it followed American 77 hijackers Khalid Al Mihdhar and Nawaf Al Hazmi, as well as Nawaf's brother Salem, halfway around Asia in January 2000. However, it claims to have lost them in Thailand on 8 January 2000, one week before they entered the US. Allegedly, Thai intelligence didn't notify the CIA that Al Hazmi had entered the US until 5 March 2000, when a cable was drafted to this effect and sent to Langley.

In testimony before the joint House and Senate select intelligence committee investigating the Sept. 11 attacks CIA Director George Tenet claimed that:
“I know that nobody read that cable”; and
“Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe.”

However, the CIA's Office of Inspector General later drafted a report on the CIA's performance before 9/11 and some passages of it were redacted and used in evidence at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. Here's the relevant one:
“... in early 2000, numerous CIA officers in different divisions accessed one or more operational documents that reported Khalid al-Mihdhar's passport contained a multiple entry visa for the United States and that Nawaf al-Hazmi had departed Thailand on a flight bound for Los Angeles. Most of the officers who accessed the documents were in the Counterterrorism Division at that time.”

Moussaoui and the Phoenix Memo

There are various issues related to Moussaoui case, but I'd now like to take a look at its connection to the Phoenix Memo; new information appeared about this after the Moussaoui trial, as an unredacted version of the DOJ's Office of Inspector General's report into the Bureau's handling of intelligence before 9/11 was released after the Moussaoui trial. It can be found here:

The previous version was heavily redacted and the whole chapter dealing with Moussaoui was absent. Having looked through it now, it seems fairly clear that one of the reasons (perhaps the main reason) that a FISA warrant was not sought to search Moussaoui's belongings (not just his computer), was that knowledge of the Phoenix EC did not circulate at FBI headquarters. When Moussaoui's belongings were searched after 9/11, evidence was found connecting him to two of the hijackers' associates: Ramzi Bin Al Shibh and Yazid Sufaat. It would have been a relatively simple matter to trace the hijackers in the US from Bin Al Shibh based on their phone calls, the fact that they lived with him for years and the surveillance of the Hamburg cell previously carried out by various agencies, including the CIA.

Spot the difference - awareness of United 175

There is a difference between the 9/11 Commission's account of awareness of United 175's hijacking and the version used in the recent CBC documentary Secret History of 9/11.

The 9/11 Commission gives the following account of a conversion between New York ATC Centre and the FAA Command Centre in Herndon:
"NEW YORK COMMAND CENTRE: We have several situations going on here. It's escalating big, big time. We need to get the military involved with us...
We're, we're involved with something else; we have other aircraft that may have a similar situation going on here." (p. 22, 9/11 CR)

However, CBC lays it out a little differently:
"NEW YORK COMMAND CENTRE: We have several situations going on here. It's escalating big, big time. We need to get the military involved with us."
"NATIONAL COMMAND CENTER: We're, we're involved with something else; we have other aircraft that may have a similar situation going on here."

The difference is that in the 9/11 CR version, the fourth sentence, "We're, we're involved with something else..." is said by New York Centre, but in the CBC version it's said by the National Command Centre. If the CBC version is true then this means that:

NSA intercepts of hijackers' calls – update

I noticed this passage in the One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind (pp. 93-94). It is further evidence that the NSA intercepted some of the hijackers' calls to/from the US before 9/11:

“FBI investigators had been interviewing [FBI agent] Coleman and others throughout the winter, seeking context on several key NSA dispatches that had been discovered in the days after 9/11. Most notable among them were calls NSA had collected in 2000 from San Diego to a number in Yemen. The Yemen number was for the daughter of a man who, Coleman told investigators, “was the uncle of half the violent jihadists we knew of in the country.” This was the number—so familiar to Coleman from his work prosecuting al Qaeda that he knew it by heart—the 9/11 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar had called while he hid out in San Diego. In fact, Coleman and other FBI al Qaeda specialists had even placed an order with the NSA back in 1998—that any calls between the Yemen line and the US be passed to the bureau—that the NSA didn't fill. “For us,” Coleman said, “anyone who called the Yemen number is white-hot, a top suspect.”

Hattip: PT

I have some comments:
(1) If you hadn't already heard, the NSA intercepted some of the hijackers' calls.