The Sabol-Corsi Consultation: FBI General Counsel’s Take

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.

This consultation has been erroneously reported in several venues, such as Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s pre-9/11 failings, the Congressional Inquiry report and the main text of the 9/11 Commission report, although an endnote to the commission’s report (number 81 to chapter eight) tells a different, seemingly much more accurate story. As nobody reads endnotes, the story from the three reports has been picked up around the media as a badge for the FBI’s perceived hopelessness before 9/11.

Some background is required to understand the issue. On August 21, 2001, Margaret Gillespie, an FBI agent on loan to the CIA who was allegedly analysing cables about al-Qaeda's Malaysia Summit at the suggestion of Tom Wilshire, a manager at the CIA and then FBI, apparently discovered that Almihdhar had entered the US. Wilshire had previously ordered that this information be concealed from the bureau, back in January 2000, when he worked for Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit.

Gillespie then Wilshire, who by this time had moved to the FBI, and Corsi. None of them remember that meeting much, but Corsi informed the FBI’s New York field office about the case and said she would soon ask them to begin searching for Almihdhar. The search was to be an intelligence investigation, which would limit the resources and tools that could be used. The distinction between criminal and intelligence investigations had potential significance because of the “wall,” a set of rules that governed information sharing between criminal agents, intelligence agents and prosecutors.

A criminal agent in New York investing the USS Cole bombing, Steve Bongardt, learned of the forthcoming search. Bongardt knew Corsi thought Almihdhar was connected to the Cole bombing, but didn’t know exactly why she thought this--she had been withholding information from him for months.

Bongardt, and two other agents in New York, told Corsi the search for Almihdhar should be a criminal, not intelligence investigation, which would allow the use of more resources and tools. However, Corsi disagreed and said she would consult a bureau attorney, who turned out of be Sabol. Two questions were to be put to Sabol: should the search be a criminal or intelligence investigation? and if it were an intelligence investigation and Almihdhar were located, could a criminal agent be present?

Sabol and Corsi agree that the consultation occurred and agree Sabol advised the search should be an intelligence investigation (which was bad advice, although Corsi did not present all the facts to Sabol). However, Corsi says Sabol told her a criminal agent could not be present at an interview. When Corsi told Bongardt this the next day, it led to his famous “someday someone will die” e-mail, without which no account of the FBI’s actions before 9/11 is complete.

Sabol denies this, although you won’t find Sabol’s denial in the Justice Department inspector general’s report, the Congressional Inquiry report or the main text of the 9/11 Commission report. This is the problem with them; they imply that Corsi’s claim about the consultation is established fact, whereas in reality it is, at best, a he-said she-said situation. You have to dig into the 9/11 Commission endnote mentioned above to find this; there Sabol “denies advising that [Bongardt] could not participate in an interview and notes that she would not have given such inaccurate advice.”

This is where Parkinson’s comments come in. Basically, he backed Sabol up, saying that such bad advice would have been shocking. Page 6 of the 9/11 Commission memo says:

When told that Dina Corsi alleged that NSLU had told her that no criminal agents could be involved in the search for the two men and none could participate in any interview if they were found, Parkinson said he would be shocked if anyone in NSLU gave such advice. He said there would have been no problem with a criminal agent hopping in on the search or participating in the interview. There was no FISA on these individuals so no internal walls would have been applicable.

Given that the advice would be shockingly bad, Sabol denies it, and there is no documentation of the actual consultation (just Corsi’s later e-mail to Bongardt, which, the commission’s endnote comments, was not copied to Sabol, so Sabol “did not have an opportunity to confirm or reject the advice [Corsi] was giving to [Bongard]”), who are we to believe?

Well, Sabol is an attorney of unblemished record, whereas on several occasions over the summer of 2001 Corsi threw a spanner in the works of the investigation of Almihdhar and Alhazmi (see here, here, here, here, here, here and very especially here) and she was working for a guy who had previously withheld the information about them.

Originally posted here.

Buried in their own records

More evidence from the official records that the official story is doubtful, at best. And when considered in context with the rest of the public record, it seems obvious a new investigation is called for, including into whether Commission members and staff were involved in a criminal cover up, and whether Corsi Wilshire and other were intentionally facilitating the 9/11 plot by obstructing investigations that could have disrupted it.

538n81 is the reference for this sentence; "She appears to have misunderstood the complex rules that could apply to this situation." (271n81) Following this is a quote from Bongardt's "someone will die" email, including his statement, "Let's hope the [NSLU] will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL, is getting the most "protection." (271) Following this, is Corsi's response; "Jane" replied that she was not making up the rules; she claimed that they were in the relevant manual and "ordered by the [FISA] Court and every office of the FBI is required to follow them including FBI NY." (271n82)

Without providing evidence, the Commission claims that Corsi "'appears' to have 'misunderstood'". There's nothing in the text or the endnotes to indicate they actually investigated other possibilities, such as intentional obstruction, and ruled them out. The endnote says Corsi, according to the Commission's interview w/ her, said, "'Jane' says she only asked whether there was sufficient probable cause to open the matter as a criminal case and whether the criminal agent could attend any interview if Mihdhar was found. She said the answer she received to both questions was no. She did not ask whether the underlying information could have been shared." (538n81)

As Kevin noted, Sherry Sabol, "The NSLU attorney denies advising that the agent could not participate in an interview and notes that she would not have given such inaccurate advice. The attorney told investigators that the NSA caveats would not have precluded criminal agents from joining in any search for Mihdhar or from participating in any interview. Moreover, she said that she could have gone to the NSA and obtained a waiver of any such caveat because there was no FISA information involved in this case.There are no records of the conversation between “Jane” and the attorney. “Jane” did not copy the attorney on her email to the agent, so the attorney did not have an opportunity to confirm or reject the advice “Jane” was giving to the agent." (538n81)


Kevin pointed out we have no evidence Sabol actually gave the bad advice Corsi claims to have received, and no evidence Sabol has made mistakes in legal interpretation before, or has conflicts of interest (perhaps such evidence exists somewhere- Kevin, are hers and Corsi's performance reports, etc. public?) In any case, as Kevin documented above, Larry Parkinson considered the issue to be such a no-brainer that "he would be shocked if anyone in NSLU gave such advice." And it's a matter of public record, as Kevin observed, that Corsi had monkeywrenched the investigation into Almihdhar and Alhazmi on at least 7 occasions- in addition to working for Tom Wilshire, who had also withheld info from the FBI about them.

Some at 911blogger and elsewhere have been claiming there's no evidence the alleged hijackers were involved in 9/11, and have suggested that any evidence pointing to their involvement may have been faked. Of course, the US government should be required to present the evidence and make its case publicly. To be sure, there's a legal presumption of innocence until guilt is proven- but I'm not going to assume they weren't involved, either. After all, if Almihdhar and Alhazmi and others weren't participating in a plot, why is there all this documentary evidence of an investigation into them, prior to 9/11? This mounting pile of evidence seems to be most readily explained, not by shocking levels of consistent 'incompetence' and 'negligence', but by intentional obstruction- which served to protect and facilitate the alleged hijackers and the 9/11 plot- or, at least the appearance that there were hijackers involved in a plot. Really, it appears they were probably patsies being helped along. That doesn't absolve the alleged hijackers of guilt; it implicates additional parties. These parties swore an Oath to defend the Constitution, and were officially tasked with protecting the U.S. In addition to being complicit in mass murder, these people may also be guilty of treason.

A full investigation is in order. There's no reason to accept the official story about 9/11- we need to have the whole truth, which includes the whole truth about how and why 9/11 has been exploited the way it has been- to justify a 'war on terror' which "will not end in our lifetimes", with massive increases in funding for the military industrial complex, wars in geo-strategic resource-rich nations, a domestic surveillance state, rendition, torture, and other subversions of the Constitution and public interest, which have benefited a faction of the 'elite' class in the U.S. and its allies in the so-called 'war on terror'.

Performance reports...

... are not public for Corsi and Sabol. There is an absolute minimum of information available about them.


To you both.

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? The facts speak for themselves.