About the 9/11 Commission
Miscellaneous Articles

Chairmen Kean and Hamilton
on their 9/11 Commission

Some excerpts
from the book Without Precedent by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton,
which show how the 9/11 Commission
tailored its discussion of the motives for the 9/11 attack
to suit the requirements of American politics

(more specifically, the much-denied Israel lobby).

Emphasis and comments are added.

9/11 Commission Mandate
[pages 14–15]

[The 9/11 Commission] had an exceedingly broad mandate.
The legislation creating the commission instructed us to examine
  1. intelligence agencies;
  2. law enforcement agencies;
  3. diplomacy;
    ...; and
  4. other areas of the public and private sectors
    determined relevant by the Commission for its inquiry.

In other words,
our inquiry would stretch across the entire U.S. government,
and even into the private sector....

[page 21]

President Bush instructed Kissinger [initial chairman for the committee] to
“follow all the facts, wherever they lead.”

Saudi Attitudes
[page 113]

[Our staff in Saudi Arabia] met with about thirty or forty Saudi civilians,
all young to middle-age males, who were
educated, articulate, and part of the so-called moderates within Saudi society.
Almost unanimously,
they were harshly critical of the United States and its policies.
They did not defend crashing planes into buildings,
but they believed strongly that
the United States was unfair in its approach to the Middle East,
particularly in its support for Israel.

These feelings were not surprising,
but hearing them firsthand from so-called moderates drove home
the enormous gap between
how we see ourselves and our actions in the Middle East, and
how others perceive us.
[And why does this “enormous gap” exist?
Kean and Hamilton don’t ask that question, let alone try to answer it,
but the answer is obvious to any unbiased observer:
Because of the feminist, Zionist biases of America’s media.]

It was an experience that Americans don’t often get.

The Lobby Strikes
[pages 284–285]

[When writing the final report, the commission] did, however,
have some disagreement over foreign policy issues.
Much of it
revolved around the question of al Qaeda’s motivation.
For instance, [Vice Chair] Lee Hamilton felt there had to be an acknowledgment
that a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
was vital to America’s long-term relationship with the Islamic world,
that the presence of American forces in the Middle East
was a major motivating factor in al Qaeda’s actions.
Similarly, several commissioners pointed out that
we had to acknowledge that the American presence in Iraq
[recall they were having these discussions in mid-2004]
had become the dominant issue
in the way the world’s Muslims viewed the United States.
[The charter of the commission called for them
to examine the causes of an event which occurred on 2001-09-11,
while the invasion of Iraq did not occur until 2003.
Thus concerns about
the adverse effect of the invasion of Iraq on Muslim perceptions of the U.S.,
while valid for determining future U.S. policy,
have nothing to do with the causes of the 9/11 attack.
We must look elsewhere for those causes.]

This was sensitive ground. [!]
Commissioners who argued that al Qaeda
was motivated primarily by a religious ideology—
and not by opposition to American policies—
rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the report.
In their view,
listing U.S. support for Israel
as a root cause of al Qaeda’s opposition to the United States

indicated that
the United States should reassess that policy.
[What’s wrong with that?
The point that Kean and Hamilton are making explicit here is that
it is a taboo in high Washington circles to, in their words,
“indicate[] that the United States should reassess that policy.”
Nothing could more clearly demonstrate two things:
  1. The Israel lobby totally, utterly, completely dominates Washington.
  2. The ADL is a bunch of filthy liars for denying that fact.

To Lee, though,
it was not a question of altering support for Israel
but of merely stating a fact that
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was central
to the relations between the Islamic world and the United States—
and to bin Laden’s ideology
and the support he gained throughout the Islamic world
for his Jihad against America.

neither U.S. policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
nor U.S. policy in Iraq
was covered in our mandate,

[Compare ...]
we were not required to discuss the issues at length.
Had that been the case, reaching consensus would have been difficult.
We ended up agreeing on language
that acknowledged the importance of the two issues
[but totally avoids making explicit
the relevance of Israel’s conduct to the 9/11 attack]
without passing judgment:
America’s policy choices have consequences.
Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that
American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
and American actions in Iraq
are dominant staples of popular commentary
across the Arab and Muslim world.
That does not mean U.S. choices have been wrong.
It means those choices must be integrated with
America’s message of opportunity to the Arab and Muslim world.
Neither Israel nor the new Iraq will be safer
if worldwide Islamic terrorism grows stronger.

Miscellaneous Articles

A selection of articles about the events of 2001-09-11
and the 9/11 Commission Report.

From an unknown (to me) year is the ABC News report

Were Israelis Detained on Sept. 11 Spies?
by ABC News
ABCNEWS' Chris Isham, John Miller, Glenn Silber and Chris Vlasto contributed to this report.
June 21, year ???? [retrieved 2016-05-13]

Millions saw the horrific images of the World Trade Center attacks, and those who saw them won't forget them. But a New Jersey homemaker saw something that morning that prompted an investigation into five young Israelis and their possible connection to Israeli intelligence.

Maria, who asked us not to use her last name, had a view of the World Trade Center from her New Jersey apartment building. She remembers a neighbor calling her shortly after the first plane hit the towers.

She grabbed her binoculars and watched the destruction unfolding in lower Manhattan. But as she watched the disaster, something else caught her eye.

Maria says she saw three young men kneeling on the roof of a white van in the parking lot of her apartment building. "They seemed to be taking a movie," Maria said.

The men were taking video or photos of themselves with the World Trade Center burning in the background, she said. What struck Maria were the expressions on the men's faces. "They were like happy, you know … They didn't look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange," she said.

She found the behavior so suspicious that she wrote down the license plate number of the van and called the police. Before long, the FBI was also on the scene, and a statewide bulletin was issued on the van.

The plate number was traced to a van owned by a company called Urban Moving. Around 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, the van was spotted on a service road off Route 3, near New Jersey's Giants Stadium. A police officer pulled the van over, finding five men, between 22 and 27 years old, in the vehicle. The men were taken out of the van at gunpoint and handcuffed by police.

The arresting officers said they saw a lot that aroused their suspicion about the men. One of the passengers had $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock. Another was carrying two foreign passports. A box cutter was found in the van. But perhaps the biggest surprise for the officers came when the five men identified themselves as Israeli citizens.

‘We Are Not Your Problem’

According to the police report, one of the passengers told the officers they had been on the West Side Highway in Manhattan "during the incident" — referring to the World Trade Center attack. The driver of the van, Sivan Kurzberg, told the officers, "We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem." The other passengers were his brother Paul Kurzberg, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari.

When the men were transferred to jail, the case was transferred out of the FBI's Criminal Division, and into the bureau's Foreign Counterintelligence Section, which is responsible for espionage cases, ABCNEWS has learned.

One reason for the shift, sources told ABCNEWS, was that the FBI believed Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.

After the five men were arrested, the FBI got a warrant and searched Urban Moving's Weehawken, N.J., offices.

The FBI searched Urban Moving's offices for several hours, removing boxes of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. The FBI also questioned Urban Moving's owner. His attorney insists that his client answered all of the FBI's questions. But when FBI agents tried to interview him again a few days later, he was gone.

Three months later 2020's cameras photographed the inside of Urban Moving, and it looked as if the business had been shut down in a big hurry. Cell phones were lying around; office phones were still connected; and the property of dozens of clients remained in the warehouse.

The owner had also cleared out of his New Jersey home, put it up for sale and returned with his family to Israel.

‘A Scary Situation’

Steven Gordon, the attorney for the five Israeli detainees, acknowledged that his clients' actions on Sept. 11 would easily have aroused suspicions. "You got a group of guys that are taking pictures, on top of a roof, of the World Trade Center. They're speaking in a foreign language. They got two passports on 'em. One's got a wad of cash on him, and they got box cutters. Now that's a scary situation."

But Gordon insisted that his clients were just five young men who had come to America for a vacation, ended up working for a moving company, and were taking pictures of the event.

The five Israelis were held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, ostensibly for overstaying their tourist visas and working in the United States illegally. Two weeks after their arrest, an immigration judge ordered them to be deported. But sources told ABCNEWS that FBI and CIA officials in Washington put a hold on the case.

The five men were held in detention for more than two months. Some of them were placed in solitary confinement for 40 days, and some of them were given as many as seven lie-detector tests.

Plenty of Speculation

Since their arrest, plenty of speculation has swirled about the case, and what the five men were doing that morning. Eventually, The Forward, a respected Jewish newspaper in New York, reported the FBI concluded that two of the men were Israeli intelligence operatives.

Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of operations for counterterrorism with the CIA who is now a consultant for ABCNEWS, said federal authorities' interest in the case was heightened when some of the men's names were found in a search of a national intelligence database.

Israeli Intelligence Connection?

According to Cannistraro, many people in the U.S. intelligence community believed that some of the men arrested were working for Israeli intelligence. Cannistraro said there was speculation as to whether Urban Moving had been "set up or exploited for the purpose of launching an intelligence operation against radical Islamists in the area, particularly in the New Jersey-New York area."

Under this scenario, the alleged spying operation was not aimed against the United States, but at penetrating or monitoring radical fund-raising and support networks in Muslim communities like Paterson, N.J., which was one of the places where several of the hijackers lived in the months prior to Sept. 11.

For the FBI, deciphering the truth from the five Israelis proved to be difficult. One of them, Paul Kurzberg, refused to take a lie-detector test for 10 weeks — then failed it, according to his lawyer. Another of his lawyers told us Kurzberg had been reluctant to take the test because he had once worked for Israeli intelligence in another country.

Sources say the Israelis were targeting these fund-raising networks because they were thought to be channeling money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups that are responsible for most of the suicide bombings in Israel. "[The] Israeli government has been very concerned about the activity of radical Islamic groups in the United States that could be a support apparatus to Hamas and Islamic Jihad," Cannistraro said.

The men denied that they had been working for Israeli intelligence out of the New Jersey moving company, and Ram Horvitz, their Israeli attorney, dismissed the allegations as "stupid and ridiculous."

Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, goes even further, asserting the issue was never even discussed with U.S. officials.

"These five men were not involved in any intelligence operation in the United States, and the American intelligence authorities have never raised this issue with us," Regev said. "The story is simply false."

No ‘Pre-Knowledge’

Despite the denials, sources tell ABCNEWS there is still debate within the FBI over whether or not the young men were spies. Many U.S. government officials still believe that some of them were on a mission for Israeli intelligence. But the FBI told ABCNEWS, "To date, this investigation has not identified anybody who in this country had pre-knowledge of the events of 9/11."

Sources also said that even if the men were spies, there is no evidence to conclude they had advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. The investigation, at the end of the day, after all the polygraphs, all of the field work, all the cross-checking, the intelligence work, concluded that they probably did not have advance knowledge of 9/11," Cannistraro noted.

As to what they were doing on the van, they say they read about the attack on the Internet, couldn't see it from their offices and went to the parking lot for a better view. But no one has been able to find a good explanation for why they may have been smiling with the towers of the World Trade Center burning in the background. Both the lawyers for the young men and the Israeli Embassy chalk it up to immature conduct.

According to ABCNEWS sources, Israeli and U.S. government officials worked out a deal — and after 71 days, the five Israelis were taken out of jail, put on a plane, and deported back home.

While the former detainees refused to answer ABCNEWS' questions about their detention and what they were doing on Sept. 11, several of the detainees discussed their experience in America on an Israeli talk show after their return home.

Said one of the men, denying that they were laughing or happy on the morning of Sept. 11, "The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event."


How America can wreak vengeance
by John Keegan
Daily Telegraph (UK), 2001-09-14

[This article primarily gives general advice on
how America might respond to the terrorist strike on 9/11.
Paragraphs 11 through 13, however, do focus on Afghanistan.
Note also Keegan’s 2001-09-20 article
If America decides to take on the Afghans, this is how to do it”]

THE invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is unprecedented.
It does not, however, at once enhance the military power
that America will deploy in its war on terrorism.
It merely makes it possible for Washington
to call on its allies to lend assistance.
What assistance will be given remains for each to decide.

The declaration does have the effect, however,
of defining what will now be a theatre of war.
It includes not only the territories of the member states,
but also the North Atlantic “area” -
the whole of the world north of the Tropic of Cancer.
That line runs just under the mouth of the Gulf
and below the southern coast of Iran.
What may be presumed to be the primary target states, Afghanistan foremost,
therefore lie within it.

It is also important that the invocation of Article 5
will not limit America’s freedom to act unilaterally,
which may prove vital if some or any of its partners jib
at measures it decides to take.

As sympathy for its plight fades, together with revulsion at the atrocity,
it is possible that
states less resolute for armed action and more sympathetic to the Arab world
will shuffle their feet.
France comes immediately to mind, but Italy may also backslide,
perhaps Germany as well.

Militarily that will not signify greatly
because none of those states, except France,
has worthwhile military forces to deploy.
Nor do any of the continental European Nato states have bases to offer
in the probable operational area.
The over-flying and logistic facilities they could make available
would be valuable;
real force, however, will come from America’s own resources
and is being assembled urgently at this moment.

Britain, at least, can be counted on - as always.
Tony Blair has already said the right things
and will undoubtedly hold true to his words.
He will be supported wholeheartedly by the British people,
in whom the New York horror has reawoken
that sense of Anglo-American solidarity
that animated the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

Britain can actually lend something substantial to America’s war effort.
Small though our Armed Forces are, they are well balanced and of high quality,
with particular skills in expeditionary and low-intensity operations
that will prove useful.
The American special forces have largely learnr their expertise from ours,
which they admire,
and they will be ready to call on their help without demur.
Such help will be given fully.

What, however, will America do of its own accord?
No obvious targets have yet been identified.
The evil-doers have not declared themselves
and there is a variety of culprits to be blamed.
Islamic fundamentalist movements, it is generally agreed, are at the centre.
Both supposed motivation - hatred of America, “the great Satan” -
and methods of operation point to them.

Suicide attacks have,
since the civil war in Lebanon that began 30 years ago,
become the preferred method of Islamic protest,
and the displaced peoples of that region, Palestinians foremost,
provide candidates for martyrdom in profusion.
Not only Palestinians, however;
young men of many other Islamic nationalities, including Afghans,
flocked to Lebanon while it was a base for operations against Israel,
learnt suicide techniques there, imbibed the spirit of fanaticism
and took it home.

The target is therefore diffuse.
Because of the Islamic diaspora,
there may now be suicide cells in many countries,
throughout the Middle East and North Africa, of course,
but also in western Europe.
There are certainly potential suicide bombers in Britain.

The root of the evil,
now clearly associated with Osama bin Laden’s group,
lies, however, in the Islamic world and probably in Afghanistan.
The problem is how to strike at it.

Afghanistan is a remote country of difficult terrain,
ruled by fanatics who do not fear retaliation.
Moreover, taking war to the Afghans has a bad history.
The British, in three wars, twice came off badly - in 1842 and 1919.
The Russians came off very badly indeed in the last days of communism.
Pessimists will, therefore, probably argue that
an American campaign against Afghanistan,
to root out terrorists who shelter there,
is also doomed to failure.

It should be remembered, however, that, in 1878,
the British did succeed in bringing the Afghans to heel.

Lord Robertsmarch from “Kabul to Khandahar”

was one of Victoria’s celebrated wars.
The Russians, moreover,
foolishly did not try to punish rogue Afghans, as Roberts did,
but to rule the country.
Since Afghanistan is ungovernable,
the failure of their [1979–92] effort was predictable

The Americans should try to repeat Roberts’s success.
He, however, operated from a firm base within India.
Modern India is unlikely to offer America such facilities.
Where else might they be found?

Ironically, it seems possible that America may look to Russia.
There are two reasons why President Putin might help.
The first is that Russia is also plagued by the menace of Islamic terrorism
that, in Chechnya,
has inflicted humiliation on the successor to the once-great Soviet army.
The second is that lending assistance to Nato
might persuade the alliance to admit Russia to membership.

Since the collapse of communism,
one of the main strands of Russian foreign policy has been
to seek closer alignment with the West.
Russia has been constantly rebuffed -
it took particularly badly
the sop of membership of the so-called Partnership for Peace,
but perhaps there has - until now - been
no substantial basis on which
the leader of the former Warsaw Pact and Nato could have made common cause.

But the world changed on Tuesday.
America and Russia may well now be able to agree [on?]
a common cause in the war against nihilistic terrorism
and to join in military alliance.
For those who regard the combination of
national humiliation and international ostracism
that Russia has suffered since 1989
as dangerous and undesirable,
an American-Russian reconciliation would be
a wholly beneficial outcome of Tuesday’s atrocity.

Given bases,
America can undoubtedly wreak terrible vengeance on its new-found enemies.
We may expect operations as improbable as Tuesday’s itself.
With appropriate logistic facilities,
America’s deployable ground-air forces,
such as its two air-assault and airborne divisions,
could move from
the regions bordering Afghanistan’s northern frontier with the former Soviet Union
to inflict violent strikes on its Islamic enemies.

America would not seek to change the regime,
but simply attempt to find and kill terrorists.
It would do so without pity.

There would be no more fear of the body-bags coming home.
There are body-bags aplenty in Manhattan this week
and young Americans will risk their lives,
with a fervour as intense as any Islamic suicide killer,
to do their duty to honour and country.

America, once roused, is a terrible enemy to fight,
as Japan found on Okinawa and Iwo Jima.
Those islands were captured, not by air power or naval bombardment,
but because young GIs and marines were better and braver soldiers
than their Japanese opponents.


There are other current movements of which to take note,
as yet insubstantial but certain to gather concrete form.
One is the retreat of human rights lawyers
from the forefront of public life.
America in a war mood will have no truck with
tender concern for constitutional safeguards
of the liberty of its enemies.

The other, which ordinary Americans will have to learn to bear, is
interference with their liberty of
instant electronic access to friends and services.

The World Trade Centre outrage was co-ordinated on the internet,
without question.
If Washington is serious in its determination to eliminate terrorism,
it will have to forbid internet providers
to allow the transmission of encrypted messages -
now encoded by public key ciphers that are unbreakable
even by the National Security Agency’s computers -
and close down any provider that refuses to comply.

Uncompliant providers on foreign territory
should expect their buildings to be destroyed by cruise missiles.
Once the internet is implicated in the killing of Americans,
its high-rolling days may be reckoned to be over.


How 9/11 Report Soft-Pedaled Root Causes
CounterPunch.org, 2004-07-28

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

The 567-page final report released Thursday by the 9/11 Commission
provides a wealth of data--indeed,
so much detail that it is all too easy to miss the forest for the trees.
Comments by the ubiquitous commissioners last weekend
yield the clear impression that
they would just as soon limit our horizon to the trees.


Why They Hate Us
The commission’s desire to avoid unpleasantness
shows through even more clearly
as the final report tiptoes past a core issue--
Chartered to “prepare a full and complete account
of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,”
the commission might have been expected to devote considerable effort
to discerning the “why” of the attacks--
especially for those among us who remain impervious
to the dumbed-down bromide about
the terrorists hating our democracy.

If you read page 147 of the commission report carefully,
you will find embedded there a key sentence
throwing light on the motive of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,
whom the report calls the “mastermind of the 9/11 attacks:”
KSM’s animus toward the United States
stemmed not from his experiences there as a student,
but rather from
his violent disagreement with
U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.

A footnote points out that
his statements regarding the “why” of attacking the United States
echo those of his nephew, Ramzi Yousef,
when he was sentenced in New York to a prison term of 240 years in January 1998.
Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center,
accused the United States of supporting Israeli terrorism against Palestinians,
adding that
he was proud to fight any country that supports Israel.

[Some relevant quotes from Yousef,
extracted from Steve Coll’s book Ghost Wars,
appear here.]

Hats off to commission staff
for shoehorning that information in and
to the commissioners who let it stay.
This is highly unusual prose for a Washington establishment
usually allergic to any hint at
the cruel reality that Israel is the tail wagging the dog--
the dogs of war let slip on Iraq by those in the Bush administration
who draw no distinction between U.S. strategic interests and those of Israel.

Bravo for the commission’s attempt--however timid--
to go beyond jingoism in addressing “why they hate us.”
On page 374 begins a section [12.3] titled
There the authors pick up on the conundrum
repeatedly expressed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
whether the United States is generating more terrorists than it is killing,
and whether the United States needs
“a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists.”

In gingerly language, the report points out:
America’s policy choices have consequences.
Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that
American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
and American actions in Iraq
are dominant staples of popular commentary
across the Arab and Muslim world.
--or, in the vernacular, “It’s the policy, stupid!”

[Note that this very passage is cited by committee co-chairs Kean and Hamilton
in their discussion of how the Israel lobby pressured their committee.]

Michael Scheuer, the CIA analyst author of
Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror,
emphasizes that Bin Laden’s “genius” is his ability to exploit U.S. policies--
first and foremost, our one-sided support for Israel--
that are most offensive to Muslims,
and notes that
it is particularly difficult to have a serious debate
regarding U.S. policy toward Israel.

[Again, see the Kean-Hamilton discussion of this point.]

As if to prove Scheuer right,
Commissioner Bob Kerrey yesterday on ABC’s This Week
recited a mantra that is as familiar as it is mindless:
You cannot negotiate, you cannot compromise
with those who have reached the conclusion that
terrorism is their only option.

But of course. Keep it at that level, Bob.
Don’t dare ask the deeper but simple question as to
why such people have lost all hope for peaceful change.

I was reminded of Rumsfeld’s melancholy musing on the same ABC program some months ago:
“How do you persuade people not to become suicide bombers;
how do you reduce the number of people attracted to terrorism?
No one knows how to do that.”
Let’s hope that Rumsfeld, Kerrey and others will read and ponder
the implications of what is said on pages 374-377 of the 9/11 commission report.

Misreading the 9/11 Report
Victory in the War on Terror
depends less on homeland security than global collaboration.
By Paul W. Schroeder
The American Conservative, 2004-09-13

[An excerpt:]

The 9/11 Commission Report draws praise for valid reasons.
But the remarkable plaudits, publicity, and sales it has garnered
do not prove that it has been correctly understood.
The public discussion of the report in fact suggests that
Americans are missing its central point and purpose.


What does this reading of the report tell us about
the current American discussion of it,
concentrated on homeland security and intelligence reform?
Indulge me in a parable.

There once was a very rich man who lived on a lavish country estate,
well away from a teeming nearby city
plagued by gangs, crime, poverty, and violence.
He was the richest and most powerful businessman in that area,
owning extensive properties in the region and
exercising a leading influence in its politics, economic activity, and society.

One day the worst gang in the city,
led by a particularly dangerous thug
who had earlier attacked some of the landowner’s businesses,
made a daring assault on his country estate, causing major damage.
The landowner responded by declaring war on the gangs and
promising to take the fight to their lairs in the housing complexes of the city.

How Not to Catch a Terrorist

A ten-step program, from the files of the U.S. intelligence community

by Anonymous [Michael F. Scheuer]

The Atlantic, 2004-12

During the recent Senate confirmation hearings for Porter J. Goss, the new CIA director, Senator Dianne Feinstein read a provocative paragraph from a letter that had been sent to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The gist of the letter was that key pre-9/11 intelligence failings were the result not primarily of budgetary, structural, or organizational problems (as suggested by the official 9/11 Commission Report) but, rather, of bad decisions by individuals—"unelected, unaccountable officials who made an art of outlasting their elected superiors." What made the letter particularly notable was its author: a twenty-two-year CIA veteran named Michael Scheuer
now better known as Anonymous, the author of the books
Imperial Hubris and Through Our Enemies' Eyes
who headed the Agency's bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999.

The full text of the letter, which for the first time lays out ten crucial and specific failures by the intelligence community in the run-up to 9/11, has never appeared in print. The Atlantic has acquired a copy, key sections of which are reproduced below.


I will briefly summarize ten instances since 1996, picked from dozens of others to protect classified data, in which the decisions of senior Intelligence Community bureaucrats—not legal "walls", organizational structure, or inadequate budgets—have been at the core of our failure against Bin Laden. All of the following information has been passed in testimony, in documents, or in both by myself and other CIA officers to one or more of the four panels investigating the 11 September attacks: two internal CIA investigations, the congress's Joint Commission, and the Kean Commission. None of these panels, to my knowledge, have yet focused on the reality that, while the 11 September attacks probably were unstoppable, it was decisions by human beings—featuring arrogance, bad judgment, disdain for expertise, and bureaucratic cowardice—that made sure the Intelligence Community did not operate optimally to defend America.

1. Mid-to-Late 1996: CIA's Bin Laden unit acquired detailed information about the careful, professional manner in which al-Qaeda was seeking to acquire nuclear weapons ... there could be no doubt after this date that al-Qaeda was in deadly earnest in seeking nuclear weapons. The report was initially suppressed within CIA, and then published in a drastically shortened form. Three officers of the Agency's Bin Laden cadre protested this decision in writing, and forced an internal review. It was only after this review that this report was provided in full to Community leaders, analysts, and policymakers ...

2. December 1996: From a CIA officer detailed to another Intelligence Community (IC) agency and serving overseas, the Bin Laden unit learned of the availability of a communications conduit used by Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The other IC agency refused to exploit the conduit and threatened legal action against the Agency officer who advised of its existence. This officer bravely continued to supply the information; and I asked senior Agency officers to intervene with the other IC agency. There ensued a desultory interagency discussion without resolution. The CIA was forced to devise its own ability to exploit the communications conduit and secured about half of the available material. The other IC agency was able to secure the other half, but refused to share it. This capability was later lost because of an August 1998 leak to the media by the U.S. military.

3. December 1996-June 1999: The CIA's Bin Laden unit repeatedly and formally requested assistance from the U.S. military to help plan operations against Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. We needed and asked for special operations officers. After pressing for eighteen months, we were sent two non-special operations individuals who had experience only on Iran. The Bin Laden unit received no support from senior Agency officials vis-à-vis the U.S. military.

4. February 1996-May 1998: The Bin Laden unit and several other senior CIA officers requested transcripts rather than summaries of electronic collection against al-Qaeda ... [V]erbatim transcripts are operationally useful, summaries are much less so, and they are usually not timely. The answer to these requests in every case was no. At one point the senior operations officer for an Intelligence Community component said that the National Security Act of 1947 gave her agency control of "raw" signals intelligence, and that she would not pass such material to CIA.

5. August-September 1997: For most of a year the Bin Laden unit prepared for an operation in a foreign city that was set to come to fruition in late-summer 1997. The unit's lead U.S.-based officer on this operation was an extraordinarily able analyst from another IC component; she knew the issue cold. Days before the operation occurred the IC component ordered her back to its headquarters. She protested, but was told that she would not be promoted if she balked at returning. I protested to my superiors and to the three most senior officers of the IC component who were then in charge of terrorism. All refused to intervene. The operation was much less well exploited because of the loss of this officer. A year later, al-Qaeda destroyed U.S. facilities in the area near the foreign city of the under-exploited operation.

6. April-May 1998: The Agency's Bin Laden unit was ordered disbanded and reduced to a small branch. This was done, so far as I know, without the knowledge of the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] ... When DCI found out about this plan, he intervened in mid-May 1998. By doing so, the DCI preserved the unit and dodged the bullet of having to explain to the American people why the Agency thought Bin Laden was so little of a threat that it had destroyed the Bin Laden unit weeks before two U.S. embassies were demolished. Needless to say, the on-again, off-again signals about the unit's future status made for confusion, distraction, and much job-hunting in the last few weeks before al-Qaeda's August 1998 attacks in East Africa.

7. May 1998-May 1999: The CIA officers working Bin Laden at Headquarters and in the field gave the U.S. government about ten chances to capture Bin Laden or kill him with military means. In all instances, the decision was made that the "intelligence was not good enough." This assertion cannot be debated publicly without compromising sources and methods. What can be said, however, is that in all these cases there was more concern expressed by senior bureaucrats and policymakers about how international opinion would react to a U.S. action than there was concern about what might happen to Americans if they failed to act. Indeed, on one occasion these senior leaders decided it was more important to avoid hitting a structure near Bin Laden's location with shrapnel, than it was to protect Americans. Two other points: the truth has not been fully told about the chance to militarily attack Bin Laden at a desert hunting camp being used by wealthy Gulf royals; and our best chance to capture Bin Laden—an operation which showed no U.S. hand, risked no U.S. lives, and was endorsed by senior commanders of the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg—was cancelled because senior officials from the Agency, the Executive Branch, and other Intelligence Community components decided to accept assurances from an Islamic country that it could acquire Bin Laden from the Taleban. U.S. officials accepted these assurances despite the well-documented record of that country withholding help—indeed, it was a record of deceit and obstruction—regarding all issues pertaining to Bin Laden between December 1996 and May 1998. The makers of this decision ignored the extensive documentary record that showed nothing but uncooperativeness from this Islamic country.

8. August 1998: After the bombing of two U.S.-based embassies in East Africa, the senior CIA managers asked what the Bin Laden unit needed most to enhance the attack against al-Qaeda. I again raised our dire need for verbatim reports derived from electronic collection. These senior managers ordered this to be arranged. After receiving less than a dozen such transcripts the process stopped. Despite repeated requests, I failed to get the flow of data restored. Also, tragically, no member of the Bin Laden unit was asked to testify before the State Department's accountability boards for the 1998 embassy bombings. This exclusion ensured that the systemic problems embedded in the Intelligence Community—which had become overwhelmingly clear before the 1998 al-Qaeda attacks—were not raised before the only pre-9/11 panel that might have been able to initiate remedial action.

9. June 1999: On moving to a new position, I forwarded a long memorandum to the Agency's senior-most officers—some are still serving—describing an array of fixable problems that were plaguing America's attack on Bin Laden, ones that the Bin Laden unit had encountered but failed to remedy between and among Intelligence Community components ... The problems outlined in the memorandum stood in the way of attacking Bin Laden to the most effective extent possible; many remain today. Insufficient or no support from other Intelligence Community components were highlighted in the memo, as were the issues of the grossly insufficient number of experienced officers assigned to the Bin Laden unit and the at best mediocre performance of our intelligence allies—especially in Western Europe—in supporting U.S. efforts against Bin Laden. I never received a response to this memorandum.

10. September 2004: In the CIA's core, U.S.-based Bin Laden operational unit today there are fewer Directorate of Operations officers with substantive expertise on al-Qaeda than there were on 11 September 2001. There has been no systematic effort to groom al-Qaeda expertise among Directorate of Operations officers since 11 September ... The excellent management team now running operations against al-Qaeda has made repeated, detailed, and on-paper pleas for more officers to work against the al-Qaeda—and have done so for years, not weeks or months—but have been ignored ...

The deaths of three thousand Americans—and the many more destined to die at Bin Laden's hands—may well be attributable to the type of decisions noted above, the refusal of senior bureaucrats to listen to their subordinates, and, most of all, the unwillingness of senior leaders across the Intelligence Community to remedy fixable problems if it meant making decisions that disturbed the bureaucratic status quo, telling the truth about organizational and operational problems to the congressional oversight committees, or alarming political leaders who might ask the Community to take risks in defense of America ...

The pattern of decision-making I have witnessed ... seems to indicate a want of moral courage, an overwhelming concern for career advancement, or an abject inability to distinguish right from wrong. Before the Kean Commission's recommendations are implemented, and a vastly expensive and disruptive scheme is undertaken to overhaul an Intelligence Community weaker today than on 11 September 2001, it is worth reviewing the testimonies and documents the commissioners and the other 11 September panels have in hand, and reassessing where primary responsibility lies. Is it really small budgets, poor organization, and legal hurdles that stopped the Community from dealing with Bin Laden to the best of its ability? Or is it the results of decisions by human beings who refuse to do either what is in their power and patently necessary, or that which is asked for by their elected chiefs in Congress and the Executive ...


Letter to the Editor,
Commentary, 2005-06

From: Jamie Gorelick and Slade Gorton

To the Editor:

With Gabriel Schoenfeld’s point that
the CIA’s problems
“originate in realms deeper than can be addressed
by a reconfiguration of the organizational chart,”
we agree
[“What Became of the CIA” by Gabriel Schoenfeld, Commentary, 2005-03].
With his argument that a dramatic reform
of our intelligence agencies and
of the way in which they communicate with one another and with the President
is unnecessary,
we emphatically do not agree.

The 9/11 Commission, on which the two of us served as commissioners,
thoroughly and exhaustively interviewed Michael Scheuer,
whose book Imperial Hubris is criticized at length by Mr. Schoenfeld.
On a number of factual issues, he was of real value.
But much of what he had to say
was not borne out by our investigation.

[Emphasis has been added.]

Melissa Boyle Mahle’s inside view of the CIA,
put forward in her book Denial and Deception
and likewise discussed by Mr. Schoenfeld, has great merit.
Personnel policies that ignore the kind of recruiting
that would make the CIA more closely resemble
the people and countries on which it spies,
[that sounds good, but it is also the case that
the more closely a person resembles the enemies of America,
the more difficult it can be to assess his loyalty to America vice those enemies]

combined with the agency’s fear of humiliation or worse for failure,
make it risk-averse and sclerotic.

The 9/11 Commission recommended that the agency concentrate on
  • rebuilding its analytic capabilities,
  • building robust human-intelligence assets,
  • vastly strengthening its language programs, and
  • emphasizing the kind of diversity
    that will allow agents to blend better into
    the culture of the nations to which they are assigned.

These are not easy tasks.
Nor could the commission do more than
point out the priorities the CIA should set for itself and
recommend a structure in which the director of the agency
can focus on this critical task.

But nothing that the CIA may discover
is of the slightest use to a President unless
he gets the information,
together with intelligence developed by
the fourteen other agencies in the intelligence community—
all combined to paint an intelligible picture.

This is exactly what was so dramatically missing before 9/11.
As poor as much of our intelligence was,
much of what was developed
never got to either President Clinton or President Bush
because it was generated in disparate and ineffectually coordinated agencies.

A National Counterterrorism Center and a National Intelligence Director
will greatly increase the likelihood that
vital intelligence will get to where it is needed and not be lost or hidden.

We on the 9/11 Commission found that
the greatest failure before 9/11 was of imagination.
We cannot mandate imagination;
we could, and did, recommend a structure
that will facilitate the effective use of imagination when it appears.
And the Congress heeded our recommendation.

Jamie Gorelick
Washington, D.C.

Slade Gorton
Seattle, Washington


Bill and Dick, Osama and Sandy
By Michael F. Scheuer
Washington Times, 2006-07-05

Scheuer has a rather different view
of which Americans bear responsibility for failing to prevent 9/11
than that of the 9/11 Commission and the MSM
(which tends to echo the commission).

Missed Opportunities
Lawrence Wright
New Yorker, 2006-07-10

[From the New Yorker’s press release:]

Lawrence Wright reports on how the C.I.A. may have prevented Ali Soufan, a former F.B.I. agent, from uncovering the September 11th plot (“The Agent,” p. 62). Wright writes that in 2000, after suicide bombers attacked the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, John O’Neill, then the head of the F.B.I.’s National Security Division, placed Soufan in charge of the investigation. Soufan was invaluable to the F.B.I., Wright reports, because his roots were in the Middle East, he was the only F.B.I. agent in New York City who spoke Arabic, he was talented, and he worked relentlessly. O’Neill, Wright writes, often referred to Soufan as a “national treasure” and as his “secret weapon.” Soufan, in his first interview, tells Wright that he and his team quickly determined the identities of the Cole bombers and their link to Al Qaeda. They also uncovered the identity of a top bin Laden lieutenant working in Southeast Asia and suspected a larger plot was underway. Soufan adds that, a month after the bombing, he sent the first of several official queries to the C.I.A., asking if the agency had any information on an Al Qaeda operative and whether there might have been an Al Qaeda meeting anywhere in Southeast Asia. The agency said they had nothing. In fact, if the agency had responded candidly, the F.B.I. might have discovered that an Al Qaeda cell was already forming inside the United States and therefore might have been able to place them under surveillance or uncover details of the plot. Kenneth Maxwell, one of Soufan’s former supervisors, says, “Two Al Qaeda guys living in California—are you kidding me? We would have been on them like white on snow: physical surveillance, electronic surveillance, a special unit devoted entirely to them.” Wright reports that after September 11th the C.I.A. station chief in Yemen gave Soufan an envelope containing surveillance photos and a complete report about the Al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia—the very material that Soufan had asked for so many times. Wright reports that Soufan instantly realized that the Cole plot and September 11th were linked, and “if the C.I.A. had not withheld information from him, he likely would have drawn the connection months before September 11th.”

9/11 Commission Chairmen Admit to Whitewash
By Ivan Eland
Antiwar.com 2006-08-08

[A] new book by the chairmen of the 9/11 Commission admits that
the commission whitewashed the root cause of the 9/11 attacks –
interventionist U.S. foreign policy.
The book ... makes the shocking admission that
some commission members deliberately wanted to distort
an even more important issue.
unidentified commissioners wanted to cover up the fact that
U.S. support for Israel
was one of the motivating factors behind al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack.

[I am shocked, shocked!
Who would have thought anyone
would have wanted to cover up the fact that
Muslims hate us primarily because of
our unstinting, unquestioning support of Israel?]

9/11/06, Five Years On
by Michael Scheuer, Peter Bergen, Alexis Debat, Nikolas K. Gvosdev
and Antony T. Sullivan
National Interest, 2006-09

[An interesting symposium by five true terrorism experts
on the probability of another terrorist attack on America.
Note especially Michael Scheuer’s contribution,
excerpted below (with emphasis added).]

Courting Castrophe: America Five Years After 9/11
by Michael Scheuer

America will be attacked by Al-Qaeda again,
and more destructively than on 9/11.
Why? Simple.
Our bipartisan governing elites
willfully refuse to recognize the severity of the Islamist threat.

They are waging a feckless war that
  • misrepresents the enemies’ motivation,
  • keeps borders open,
  • applies insufficient force, and
  • pursues status quo foreign polices,
ensuring the next Islamist generation is more anti-American and numerous--
and still has the opportunity to strike the American homeland.


Calling the threat unrecognized does not mean that
policymakers, academics and generals are unaware of it.
To the contrary, Islamism is constantly debated and written about.
What I mean is that U.S. leaders
have failed to understand their enemies’ motivations.

[Scheuer suggests that U.S. leaders are stupid.
I think that, having been accused so often of anti-semitism,
he is avoiding saying the truth:
They are Zionist puppets,
as Ralph Nader has argued and Kean and Hamilton have proved.]


An essay by Rami Khouri, editor-at-large for Beirut’s Daily Star, is pertinent.
In it he wrote,
Sensible middle class Americans
get on with making a living in challenging times,
while their federal government in Washington
conducts a fantasy foreign policy
based on make-believe perceptions and imagined realities . . .
Washington’s policy is a mishmash of
  • faulty analysis,
  • historical confusions,
  • emotional anger,
  • foreign policy frustrations,
  • worldly ignorance, and
  • political deception
all rolled into one.
President Bush completely ignores
the impact of American, Israeli and other foreign policies
on the mindset of hundreds of millions of people in the Arab-Asian region . . .
This is willful political blindness
that makes the analytic basis of American foreign policy
a laughing stock around the world.


The rest of the world sees that
U.S. leaders fail to acknowledge the Islamists’ motivation.
The movement’s power, allure and enormous growth potential
is unrelated to the motivation ascribed to it by
Presidents Bush and Clinton,
Senators McCain and Clinton,
Representatives Hoekstra and Harmon, and
Prime Ministers Blair and Howard.
The Islamists are not fighting America
because they hate freedom;
because we hold regular elections;
because women are in school; or
because Budweiser flows.

U.S. national security is threatened by the Islamists
because of what America does in the Muslim world,
not because of its beliefs or lifestyle.
In claiming the present war is based on the foe’s hatred of freedom,
U.S. leaders prove themselves either unschooled fools or liars.

Indeed, Osama bin Laden has been quite helpful
in detailing the U.S. policies that inspire jihad, which include
  • our military and civilian presence on the Arabian Peninsula;
  • our unqualified support for Israel;
  • our military presence
    in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim countries;
  • our ability to keep oil prices acceptable to U.S. and Western voters;
  • our support for Chinese, Russian, and Indian oppression of Muslims; and
  • our support of and protection of the world’s Muslim tyrannies.
[Echoing his book Imperial Hubris.]

These policies make regular appearances in Bin Laden’s post-1996 rhetoric;
a decade of Western polling
shows nearly unanimous Muslim hatred for the same policies.
Thus, our elites need not digest arcane data to know the enemy.
We are at war for what we do--period.
We will be defeated if we do not
abandon comfortable fantasies, face facts
and shape strategy, policy and action accordingly.

Mr. Khouri’s second point is that U.S. leaders suffer from “historical confusion.”
This confusion, I think, is clear in the last three presidencies.
After Ronald Reagan--peace be upon that great man--
Messrs. Bush, Clinton and Bush came to believe
that they were elected as world president.
Each acted on this belief,
and so neglected his constitutional obligation to protect Americans.
Presidents now routinely cite ludicrous propositions
as foreign-policy bedrocks.

Indeed, the media-politico-think-tank “Washington consensus”
consists of the following “Articles of Faith”:
  • American freedom depends on all peoples having that freedom.
  • As a result, America must install democracy abroad,
    even at the point of a bayonet
    (and elections alone measure progress toward democracy).
  • Every war, crisis and genocide threatens U.S. national security.
  • Nation-states have a right to exist
    independent of whether they are sustainable
    and, in conjunction with the previous precepts,
    the United States must be prepared to intervene to ensure their existence.


[O]ur leaders’ stubborn, misguided insistence
that Al-Qaeda is a terrorist, not an insurgent, group
blinds us to the fact that its commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan
do not denigrate its ability to attack in the United States.
Insurgents and terrorists are drawn from two separate Al-Qaeda components;
while Al-Qaeda insurgents fix our attention in two theaters of war,
the group’s terrorists are preparing to attack America
by crossing the uncontrolled U.S. border
with a nuclear device bought or stolen
from the uncontrolled, former Soviet nuclear arsenal.

Foreign policy must be scrutinized with a cold, realistic eye.
National interests are life-or-death issues.
We should first take steps
to reduce the sources of anti-American hostility in the world,
by recognizing the following basic truths:
  1. American freedom does not depend on that of others.
    Our freedom survived civil war, world wars, racial strife and Cold War.
    Only now, by trying to impose our version of freedom abroad,
    do we risk it at home.
  2. It is ahistorical to claim America must install democracy abroad.
    The Founders were explicit:
    Our duty to the world is the example of effective self-rule.
    By trying to impose our version of self-rule abroad,
    we forfeit the soul of the republic.
  3. No nation has a right to exist--
    not America, not Belgium, not Israel, not Bolivia, not Saudi Arabia.
    Nations survive if they can
    • defend themselves,
    • limit societal rot,
    • and do not cultivate too many mortal enemies.

Rumsfeld, Ashcroft received warning of al Qaida attack before 9/11
McClatchy Newspapers, 2006-10-02

The three former senior intelligence officials, however, said
Tenet raised the matter with [the 9/11 Commission] himself,
displayed slides from the PowerPoint presentation
and offered to testify on the matter in public.

States of Denial
Bob Woodward's best-selling State of Denial dooms the official 9/11 narrative
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2006-10-06


The High-Fivers
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-02-16

More proof the Israelis were shadowing the 9/11 hijackers

Ketcham’s Story
by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair
CounterPunch.org, 2007-03-07

What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks?
High-Fivers and Art Student Spies
by Christoper Ketcham
CounterPunch.org, 2007-03-07

The Kuala Lumpur Deceit
by Christoper Ketcham
CounterPunch.org, 2007-03-07

Executive Summary of
the Office of the Inspector General Report on
CIA Accountability with respect to the 9/11 Attacks
[PDF file, ~1M]
by CIA Inspector General
June 2005

Director’s Statement on the Release of the 9/11 IG Report Executive Summary
Statement to Employees
on the Release of the 9/11 IG Report Executive Summary
by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General Michael V. Hayden
cia.gov, 2007-08-21

Statement by Former Central Intelligence Director George J. Tenet
Regarding the Release of the Executive Summary
of the June 2005 Office of the Inspector General Report on 9/11

by George J. Tenet
Washington Post, 2007-08-22

[Also available from the New York Times here.
For alternatives on the web, click here.]

In August of 2001, the Office of the Inspector General
produced an insightful and valuable review of CIA’s counterterrorism efforts.
Unfortunately, it is not the one released today.


C.I.A. Lays Out Errors It Made Before Sept. 11
New York Times, 2007-08-22

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 — A report released Tuesday by the Central Intelligence Agency includes new details of the agency’s missteps before the Sept. 11 attacks, outlining what the report says were failures to grasp the role being played by the terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and to assess fully the threats streaming into the C.I.A. in the summer of 2001.

The 19-page report, prepared by the agency’s inspector general, also says 50 to 60 C.I.A. officers knew of intelligence reports in 2000 that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, may have been in the United States. But none of those officers thought to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the potential domestic threat, the report says, evidence of what it calls a systemic failure.

The inspector general recommended that several top agency officials, including former director George J. Tenet, be held accountable for their failure to put in place a strategy to dismantle Al Qaeda in the years before Sept. 11, 2001. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the current C.I.A. director, and his predecessor, Porter J. Goss, have declined to seek disciplinary action against Mr. Tenet and others named in the report.

The outlines of the report have been known since shortly after it was completed in 2005, but it had never been made public, and its release reignited a debate about whether the C.I.A. should have done more before the attacks and whether Mr. Tenet and other officials should be held accountable.

Mr. Tenet called many of the report’s conclusions “flat wrong,” and General Hayden noted that many of those criticized in the review by the agency’s inspector general had criticized the “focus, methodology and conclusions” of the report.

Until Tuesday, the report had been kept under wraps by the spy agency, which opposed a public airing of its failures before the Sept. 11 attacks. The summary of the report was released at the insistence of Congress, over General Hayden’s objections, under the terms of a law passed this summer.

The dispute surrounding the report’s release suggests the depth of anger that remains, nearly six years later, over where blame should be assigned for the intelligence failures surrounding Sept. 11. Among the lawmakers who voiced renewed anger at the C.I.A.’s decision not to discipline anyone was Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, who is a member of the House intelligence committee.

“Accountability is a concept the American people understand,” Mr. Holt said in a statement, adding, “I am stunned that General Hayden still does not get that message.”

Many of the report’s findings about bureaucratic breakdowns that allowed the 19 hijackers to elude the authorities and carry out the attacks have been documented elsewhere, principally by the Sept. 11 commission, but this report by John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A. inspector, was the first to recommend that top agency officials face a disciplinary review.

The full report by the inspector general, totaling several hundred pages, remains classified. As spelled out in the executive summary that was released on Tuesday, the report found neither “a single point of failure” nor a “silver bullet” that would have allowed the C.I.A. to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks. It found that no agency employee violated the law and that none of their errors amounted to misconduct.

But the report did conclude that C.I.A. resources devoted to counterterrorism had been mismanaged, and that some had been redirected away from Al Qaeda toward other parts of the agency’s clandestine service. It cited “failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations, and to properly share and analyze critical data.”

The report does not cite the names of the officials who it says “did not discharge their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner,” but it identifies some of them by title. Besides Mr. Tenet, the report criticizes James L. Pavitt, the C.I.A.’s former deputy director for operations; J. Cofer Black, the former director of the agency’s Counterterrorist Center; and other top officials.

Mr. Tenet resigned from the agency in June 2004.

The recommendation that the agency establish an “accountability board” to determine possible disciplinary action was rejected in October 2005 by Mr. Goss, who was the C.I.A. director and who argued that that punishing top officials “would send the wrong message to our junior officers about taking risks.”

The report cited the C.I.A.’s failure to pass intelligence about Mr. Mihdhar and Mr. Hamzi to other agencies as potentially significant. The C.I.A. had identified the men in January 2000 when they visited Malaysia but never notified the State Department to put them on the terrorist watch list.

The report also said that some 50 to 60 C.I.A. officials knew of the intelligence about the two men, a higher number than had been previously reported and that persistent surveillance of them “had the potential to yield information on flight training, financing and links to others who were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.”

In a memoir published this year, Mr. Tenet cited the C.I.A.’s efforts against Al Qaeda as one of the successes of his tenure and portrayed the agency as having been bold in sounding alarms about it in the summer of 2001. In his statement on Tuesday, Mr. Tenet outlined a further defense, that the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism efforts were embodied in “a robust plan, marked by extraordinary effort and dedication” long before Sept. 11, 2001.

But the report released Tuesday included new details about what it calls a strained relationship between the C.I.A. under Mr. Tenet and the National Security Agency, which was then led by General Hayden. It said the standoff had prevented C.I.A. officials from gaining access to transcripts of intercepted communications between terrorism suspects, and criticized Mr. Tenet as not interceding to resolve these turf battles.

In describing the period before Sept. 11, the report said the C.I.A. had carried out “no comprehensive analysis that put into context the threats received in the spring and summer of 2001.” It said the principal responsibility for Mr. Mohammed, who became the terrorist mastermind, had been assigned to a branch of the agency responsible for bringing terror suspects to justice, not to the one responsible for assessing threats.

As a result, it said, too little attention had been paid to accusations that Mr. Mohammed was “sending terrorists to the United States to engage in activities on behalf of bin Laden.”

In a note to agency employees on Tuesday, General Hayden made it clear that he continued to oppose the report’s release. “It will, at a minimum, consume time and attention revisiting ground that is already well plowed,” he said.

But Philip D. Zelikow, the executive director of the Sept. 11 commission, praised the report and said it was broadly consistent with his panel’s findings.

David Stout contributed reporting.

CIA Finds Holes in Pre-9/11 Work
Agency Reluctantly Releases 2-Year-Old Document Critical of Tenet
By Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 2007-08-22

Former central intelligence director George J. Tenet and his top lieutenants failed to marshal sufficient resources and provide the strategic planning needed to counter the threat of terrorism in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a summary released yesterday of a long-secret CIA report.

Despite promises of an all-out war against terrorism in the late 1990s, leaders of the spy agency allowed bureaucratic obstacles and budget shortfalls to blunt the agency’s efforts to find and capture al-Qaeda operatives, said the report, by the CIA’s inspector general. It also faulted agency leaders for failing to “properly share and analyze critical data.”

The 19-page document -- a redacted executive summary of a classified report given to congressional intelligence committees two years ago -- called for the creation of a special board to assess “potential accountability” for Tenet and other former CIA leaders. Its stark assessments triggered a sharp response, with Tenet and other former and current intelligence officials denouncing the inspector general’s conclusions.

“The IG is flat wrong,” Tenet said in a lengthy statement.



Al-Qaeda wins no matter who prevails in the NYC mosque debate
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2010-08-15

[This is mainly about what Scheuer mentions in his title,
but it begins with the following look at al-Qaeda's goals for 9/11:]

Al-Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center with several goals in mind:
to prove the U.S. government cannot defend its citizens;
to damage the U.S. economy;
to cause large numbers of casualties;
to strike at the heart of what militant Muslims regard as a “Jewish city.”
Al-Qaeda accomplished this mission superbly
and with lasting positive impact for its cause.

Another of bin Laden’s goals for the attack is not often discussed in the West,
and that’s the impact the attack was meant to have
on what can only be described as the Muslim world’s endemic defeatism.
For several centuries before 9/11,
Muslim forces were beaten every time they faced European powers.
Just since 1945, for example, Hindu India thrice beat Islamic Pakistan,
Israel three times beat multiple Arab armies, and
the United States twice defeated Iraq
and proved it can rain destruction on Muslim targets from Sudan to Afghanistan
at any time.
Indeed, so deeply entrenched is Muslim defeatism that
Osama bin Laden’s generation is often termed the “generation of defeat.”

Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 raid and its previous anti-U.S. attacks, therefore,
were meant not just to begin bleeding the U.S. economy
and driving America from the Islamic world,
but also to spur the belief among Muslims that
they could prevail in a fight against the West.


Stop the Conspiracy Theories, Al Qaeda Tells Iranian Leader
New York Times “The Lede”, 2011-09-28

Al Qaeda has a message for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran:
enough with the conspiracy theories about Sept. 11.

The latest issue of the terror group’s English-language magazine, Inspire,
lashed out at the Iranian president
for indulging in the claim that the American government — and not Al Qaeda —
was responsible for the attack.
It was a claim Mr. Ahmadinejad repeated
during his address to the United Nations General Assembly last week,
when he suggested that
the killing of Osama bin Laden was part of a dark conspiracy
to conceal the real perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad
that it does not believe Al Qaeda was behind 9/11
but rather, the U.S. government,”
read an article in the magazine published under the byline Abu Suhail.
“So we may ask the question:
why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief
that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”



Harper on the 28 pages.
by "Harper"
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2016-07-31

On Friday, July 15, the Obama White House released a redacted copy of the missing 28 page chapter from the original December 2002 Joint Congressional Joint Inquiry report on 9/11. The timing of the release was calculated to minimize the blowback from the long-overdue release of the chapter. Congress went into summer recess until after Labor Day, just hours before the 28 pages were made public through the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The attention of most Americans was immediately focused on the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions.

However, anyone carefully reading the 28 pages would realize that the Congressional investigators working for the Joint Inquiry had gathered a significant number of leads on Saudi officials and members of the Saudi Royal Family, who had either had direct contact with the 9/11 hijackers while they were in the United States preparing for the terrorist extravaganza, or had been implicated in financial and other support for Al Qaeda. The Joint Inquiry was restricted by its limited legislative mandate, the lack of time and financial resources. They were really only able to review existing files from the CIA, the FBI and other agencies, and interview some agents who had investigated Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. And they did not always find the agencies cooperative. The Saudis attempted to block the investigation and provided virtually no answers to the questions the inquiry's investigators posed to them.

This limit on the Joint Inquiry probe was reflected in a 2003 memorandum by the two 9/11 Commission staffers who had written the forbidden chapter. Document 17, as it was described by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), the highest executive branch authority on document declassification, was a 47-page memo by Dana Lesseman and Michael Jacobson, spelling out all of the leads on Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers that the Joint Inquiry had been unable to pursue. According to John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy to Ronald Reagan and a member of the 9/11 Commission, the Commission itself had been unable to complete their mandate, and had been unable to pursue all of the Saudi leads before their deadline expired. Furthermore, the Commission's staff director, Philip Zelikow, was a plant, informing the George W. Bush White House and his former boss, Secretary of State Condi Rice, about everything unearthed by his staff. Ultimately, Zelikow fired Lesseman for her persistence in pursuing the Saudi file.

The bottom line: There is more work to be done. Sept. 11, 2016 is the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks, and there will be significant public attention. When Congress returns to Washington after Labor Day, just before the 9/11 anniversary, the House is expected to pass the Justice Against Supporters of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a bill that would allow the survivors and family members of the 2,977 people killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue the Saudi Kingdom, by lifting sovereign immunity in specific cases where regimes support terrorist attacks on US soil. Members of Congress are also contemplating the next step in pursuing the Saudi file, including potential legislation to launch a de novo inquiry.

Timing is everything, and the timing of George Bush's decision to classify the 28 page chapter is a perfect case in point. In December 2002, when the President banned the publication of the chapter, the Administration was in the final phases of planning the invasion of Iraq. The two "reasons" given for the plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein were: He was amassing weapons of mass destruction, and he had been behind 9/11.

Had the chapter been published,
it would have been near impossible for Bush and Tony Blair to get away with the Iraq invasion.

It would have been like FDR announcing he was declaring war against China, not Japan after Pearl Harbor.

The issues behind the evidence of Saudi involvement in 9/11--whether at the very top of the regime and the Monarchy, as former Joint Inquiry co-chairman Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) insists, or at some mid-level where Al Qaeda sympathizers had resources to pour into the 9/11 plot--are still with us, and will not be laid to rest by the release of the 28 pages. Harper

Labels: ,