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Former 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Makes Bizarre Comments about Intelligence Failures before Attacks

Former 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton recently made some bizarre comments about the Zacarias Moussaoui case in an interview for Vanity Fair. The interview was used for a wide-ranging and very interesting oral history of the Bush White House. Hamilton’s comments appear to show complete ignorance of a key aspect of the investigation of which he was vice chair.

Moussaoui was arrested on an immigration violation due to suspicious he was planning to hijack an aircraft by the Minneapolis FBI on 16 August 2001, nearly four weeks before 9/11. His personal effects contained evidence linking him to eleven of the nineteen alleged hijackers and the local FBI suspected that he was part of a wider plot. It correctly assumed a search of the effects would uncover his links to the other conspirators. However, due to obstruction by FBI headquarters, no warrant was ever granted to search Moussaoui’s belongings. Middle managers at headquarters also failed to properly inform their superiors of the case.

Here are Hamilton’s comments on the Moussaoui case:

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:
http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/s0606/final.pdf#search=%22FBI%20OIG%20report%209%2F11%22

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.