9/11: A Review of Bob Graham’s Intelligence Matters
By Matthew B. Robinson, PhD
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
Appalachian State University
Additional facts added in italics are from other sources than Graham.
The following is a review of Senator Bob Graham’s book, Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror. This is a bulleted review of the book, focused on the following major topics discussed in the book:
? Graham’s biography and details of his Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11;
? Graham’s assertions about why terrorists attacked us on 9/11;
? Failures prior to 9/11;
? Saudi Arabian involvement in 9/11;
? Main findings of the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11;
? Needed reforms;
? Failures after 9/11;
? Presidential hindrance of the 9/11 investigations; and
? Suspicious assertions.
The book is mostly focused on what Graham calls the “Intelligence Community” – the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. – as well as their failures that led to 9/11. Graham is also highly critical of President Bush’s handling of the war on terror, and he takes aim at President Bush’s alleged hindrance of the 9/11 investigations. Graham lays out the failures that led to 9/11 and also lays out needed reforms to prevent another attack. These are the major findings of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 of which Graham was Co-Chair. Graham also delves into mistakes that have occurred since 9/11, some of which he alleges have made us less safe – one of these in his opinion is the Iraq war. The most explosive part of Graham’s book is his allegation that Saudi Arabia played a role in the attacks of 9/11 and allegation that President Bush has covered this up. Finally, I point out a few suspicious assertions of Graham regarding 9/11.
Graham’s Biography / Details of His Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11
? Former Governor and Senator of Florida (D).
? Engaged in hundreds of work days, where he held the jobs of “regular” employees of all types.
? Served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
? Organized and Co-Chaired the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (House-Senate Congressional Inquiry) whose mission was:
“to determine what the intelligence community knew or should have known prior to September 11, 2001, regarding the international terrorist threat to the United States, including possible attacks against the homeland of the United States or its interests abroad;
to identify any systemic problems that may have affected the intelligence community in learning of these attacks before they occurred, and in preventing them; and
to recommend reforms to improve the intelligence community’s capacity to identify and prevent future attacks.”
? For final the report of the Joint Inquiry, staff reviewed 500,000 pages of documents, of which 100,000 were selected for inclusion in the Joint Inquiry’s records. Staff conducted 300 interviews and participated in briefings and panel discussions involving 600 people. Had 13 closed sessions and 9 public hearings.
? Graham has always taken meticulous notes every day of his life, and now has more than 2,100 notebooks of recollections, with notes taken as events occurred (This is extremely important to remember because it serves as a form of proof that what he is saying in his book is not from his memory exclusively but also from the notes he takes as things occur).
Graham’s Assertions About Why Terrorists Attacked Us on 9/11
? As noted by Graham,: “In one of the tragic ironies of history, the enemy we know today as al-Qaeda was brought together largely by the actions of the United States” (p. 27). One of the mujahedeen leaders against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was Mullah Mohammed Omar, who would rise to be the leader of the Taliban. The US and Saudi Arabia provided them with money, weapons, and logistical support. Our $3 billion went largely through Pakistan’s ISI. UBL helped the cause too, raising money from Saudi Arabia to send to the fighters. In 1985, the CIA and the ISI began recruiting Muslim fighters from around the world to fight the Soviets, totaling eventually roughly 35,000 fighters from 43 countries. In 1987, UBL met the leader of Egypt’s Jihad group, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and in 1988, UBL formed a new group for organizational purposes called al-Qaeda. UBL became known as the Good Samaritan or Saudi Prince. When the Soviets began to withdraw forces from Afghanistan in 1989, UBL was greeted in Saudi Arabia as a hero. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, UBL offered the Saudi government thousands of his fighters to defend the Kingdom; instead, the Royal family let the US on its soil to defend against Saddam. UBL criticized the government. After the war, the US stayed and UBL became incensed. UBL transferred to Sudan in 1992 and began a life of terrorism and began backing radical leader Hassan al-Turabi. UBL created training camps and linked up with al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalian group), the Islamic Jihad Movement of Eritrea, and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad group. UBL’s first attack on Americans is thought to have occurred in 1992 on a hotel in Somalia. From 1989 to 1992, Afghanistan was led by a puppet Soviet government until it collapsed and then warlords battled for control. The Taliban took hold in 1994 and by 1996 controlled 80% of Afghanistan. In 1996, UBL was expelled from Sudan and went back to Afghanistan. There, he formed a partnership with the Taliban – they gave him shelter and a place to operate and he have them money. UBL’s money helped them capture the country. Taliban leader Mullah Omar even married one of UBL’s daughters! In August 1996, UBL issued a Declaration of Jihad against the US. Its goals were to: 1) drive US forces from the Arabian peninsula; 2) liberate Muslim holy sites; and 3) support Islamic revolutionary groups around the world.
? Graham points out that UBL may have been particularly interested in the USS Cole because it was on of the ships that launched cruise missiles against Afghan training camps in 1998. That is, he attacks for revenge.
Failures Prior to 9/11
? Al-Qaeda operatives have been in the US since the 1980s and hijacker Hani Hanjour lived here on and off since 1990
? In March 1999, German intelligence passed on name of “Marwan” to CIA along with a phone number in UAE. They asked the CIA to track him, but the CIA did not follow up. This was hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi.
? From at least January 2000 until 9/11, the CIA and FBI did not share information with each other and with state and local law enforcement that if shared would have cracked the 9/11 plot. Graham describes this as historical in nature (and it goes back to Hoover’s days as Director of the FBI). This includes not telling the FBI in June 2001 why suspected terrorists were photographed in Malaysia in January 2000, and not telling them anything about al-Midhdar’s visas or al-Hazmi’s travel to the US.
? January 5, 2000 – Hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhdar took part in gathering of al-Qaeda operatives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Both had already been identified by US intelligence as terrorist operatives for US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (the National Security Agency [NSA] had located this al-Qaeda safe house and logistics center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from a captive involved in the bombings). The US asked Malaysia to put its security service – Special Branch – there to watch the meeting, but it was unable to place a listening device inside the meeting place! Special Branch did send photos of the meeting to CIA headquarters, and al-Hazmi and al-Midhdar were there. The NSA knew al-Hazmi was affiliated with al-Qaeda since at least 1999, but it did not tell the CIA (also, in April 1999, the State Department recorded that Nawaf al-Hazmi and his brother Salim, another of the hijackers, had been issued visas at our consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). The CIA did get a photo of al-Midhdar’s Saudi passport in January 2000 but they did not watch list al-Midhdar to the State Department so that he could be denied entry into the US. CIA Director George Tenet said to the Joint Inquiry: “We had at that point the level of detail needed to watch list [al-Midhdar] — that is to nominate him to the State Department for refusal of entry into the US or to deny him another visa. Our officers … did not do so” (various agencies have their own watch lists, and they are not integrated even with the State Department’s TIPOFF system). State and local law enforcement also had no access to the TIPOFF list so even if they were on it, law enforcement would not have known to look for them. The terrorists had at least five run-ins with law enforcement while in the US. Amazingly, Mohamed Atta was stopped by police for a traffic violation in Broward County, Florida in April 2001 (at which time he had already overstayed his visa … but the police did not know this!). Then in July 2001, when stopped for speeding, there was a bench warrant for Atta’s arrest for not appearing in court for his previous violation, yet the police did not have that information!
? The CIA also did not alert Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) so they could be denied entry at the borders. The CIA says it notified the FBI so that these men could be put under surveillance if they entered the US, but the FBI says it never got any information from the CIA on these men (Graham suspects the CIA did tell the FBI but the FBI simply lost the information). Graham asserts that if al-Midhdar and al-Hazmi would have been put on the State Department watch list, both would have been denied entry into the US and could have been interrogated when they tried to enter the country, and if the FBI would have been alerted, it could have located the men in the US. Both men entered the US on January 8, 2000 through the LA Airport. And al-Hazmi’s address and phone number were listed in the San Diego phone book!
? Al-Midhdar could not fly well so he left the country and started recruiting the muscle hijackers. While out of the US for 13 months, his multiple-entry visa expired and thus he applied for a new one at the consular office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Since he had not been watch listed yet, he was stamped a new visa. Yet, the CIA knew he was a “major league killer who orchestrated the Cole attack and possibly the African bombings” (according to an email sent by a CIA officer to Director of Central Intelligence’s Counterterrorism Center in July 2001).
? As noted by Graham, “it is made clear to customs officials in their training that Saudis are different” … that is, Saudis are not to be harassed and should be treated with respect (p. 76). This may make it easier for them to get into the country. However, one Custom’s officer, Jose Melendez-Perez, denied Mohamed al-Qahtani entry into the US (a Saudi national arriving from London with no return ticket and no hotel reservation, as well as a suspicious story about his travel). Waiting outside to pick him up was Mohamed Atta! It is thought this was the 20th hijacker. Al-Qahtani was later captured in Afghanistan and is now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba!
? In September 2000, Hanjour was seen in San Diego with Nawafa al-Hazmi by FBI informant Abdussattar Shaikh. Yet, since al-Hazmi was not known to the FBI as a person of interest, Shaikh was never asked by the FBI about al-Hazmi or his associates.
? When Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi took advanced instruction at a Boeing flight simulator in Opa-Locka, Florida in December 2000 (a week after getting their pilots’ licenses), both men requested training on executing turns and approaches but not takeoffs or landings … no alarm bells were sounded!
? In January 2001, the Hart Rudman Commission (US Commission on National Security/21st Century), which was formed in 1998, predicted a large scale attack against the United States where large numbers of Americans would die in the next 25 years. It also proposed a Department of Homeland Security. These recommendations conformed to a report by the National Commission on Terrorism chaired by Ambassador Paul Bremer. Graham says Bush did not feel a sense of urgency about putting these policy suggestions into action. Instead, he announced in May 2001 that he would put Vice President Dick Cheney in charge of studying the problem of terrorism.
? In February 2001, the armed Predator became operational. Yet it was not used to target al-Qaeda leaders or UBL.
? From June to July 2001, the National Security Agency (NSA) noted an increase in threat activity (the third such rise since the winter). The US military declared ThreatCon Delta and all ships in the Persian Gulf were sent to sea. And Attorney General John Ashcroft began traveling only on government jet. Graham says this was “opposed to the commercial aircraft attorneys general normally take, despite the fact that senior FBI and CIA officials knew of no specific threat against the Attorney General” (p. 72).
? In July 2001, when the FBI’s Phoenix office sent a memo voicing concern that UBL might be using US fligh schools to infiltrate America’s civil aviation system, it was ignored by superiors and never reached the FBI’s Minneapolis office (which arrested Zacarias Moussaoui one month later for suspicious activities at a flight school). This is called stove-piping (when information did not move across FBI field offices).
? This “Phoenix memo” was sent by Kenneth Williams, who first became concerned with Libyans with suspected terrorist ties working for US aviation companies in the 1990s. Williams was later told about Arabs in a local mosque involved in aviation training. In April 2000, Williams watched a man name Zakaria Mustapha Soubra, a Lebanese national studying aeronautical safety in Arizona. Williams interviewed Soubra at his apartment and Soubra was defiant. He had photos of UBL and injured mujahedeen fighters on his wall. Soubra’s car outside had a license plate on it that came back of a man named Mohammed al-Qudhaeein who had been detained in 1999 for trying to get into the cockpit of an America West flight from Phoenix to Washington, DC. Al-Qudhaeein was traveling to a party at the Saudi embassy and their ticket had been paid for by the Saudi government. The FBI did not even investigate the case! In 2000, al-Qudhaeein was put on the State Department’s TIPOFF terrorist watch list after US intelligence learned he might have received explosives and car bomb training in Afghanistan. In August 2001, al-Qudhaeein applied for a visa to reenter the US but was denied entry! Perhaps he was an additional hijacker?
? Williams was taken off of counterterrorism to work an arson case in early 2001. The arson case was closed in April 2001 and he wrote an electronic communication (EC) to FBI headquarters in Washington, DC (this is the Phoenix memo). The continuing investigation of Soubra found six associates also involved in aviation training. While Williams did not know it, it was discovered that Soubra knew Hani Hanjour through a local religious center and carpooled with him to flight school. On at least five occasions, they were at the same flight school on the same day and at least once, they flew together! In July 2001, Williams finished his EC and sent it to the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters. READ the memo on pp. 44-45. Williams’ recommendations, if followed, would have prevented 9/11. Graham says that “had William’s recommendations been acted upon promptly, liaisons with the flight schools would have found at least one and perhaps as many as three other hijackers still developing their flying skills” (p. 47). ECs are sent to the specified units and then forwarded to the individual assigned to the lead. Williams sent the EC and requested that both the Radical Fundamentalist Unit and the Usama bin Laden Unit consider his recommendations. Both of these are operational units (that investigate specific crimes) but it did not go to an analytic unit (which considers long-term, strategic issues). It was ultimately forwarded to an FBI intelligence analysts in Portland, Oregon along with a note specifying Williams’ theory. The agent did not take any action or share it more widely and the lead was closed by officers in the RFU and UBLU on August 7, 2001. As it turns out, way back in 1983, the INS asked the FBI for assistance in locating Libyan nationals engaged in aviation or nuclear-related education! In 1998, the head of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office contacted headquarters to express concern about the large numbers of Middle Eastern males at Oklahoma flight schools. In 1999, the FBI received word that a terrorist organization was planning to send students to the US for aviation training. In response, the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters sent a communication to twenty-four field offices asking them pay close attention to Muslim students from the country who were engaged in aviation training in their areas. No FBI field offices followed up on this instruction. The investigation was dropped in November 2000 when the INS failed to respond to an FBI letter asking them to search databases for individuals from the target country studying in the US!
? Had the Minneapolis FBI Filed Office seen these memos and requests, it might have broken the 9/11 plot when it arrested Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui was not a typical flight school student for he did not have a pilot’s license, was not employed by an airline, and had not logged any flight hours. His suspicious activities concerned flight school employees – he had extreme interests in operation of the plane’s doors and control panel, he repeatedly said he would love to fly from London’s Heathrow Airport to JFK Airport in New York, and he paid $6,800 in cash. Employees discussed how much fuel is on a Boeing 747 and the damage such a plane could do if it were to hit something. A flight manager contacted a friend at the FBI and Moussaoui was arrested for being “out of status” (overstayed his visa). Minneapolis informed FBI headquarters of Moussaoui’s detention by the INS and it asked the CIA and the FBI’s legal attache in Paris for any information they could get on him. The FBI and INS went to his hotel and seized his laptop computer and belongings, yet they were told they need a warrant to search them. The FBI could have gotten a FISA warrant but it decided against this route! So they decided for the French to search his belongings and not get a FISA warrant. According to Graham, the FBI’s legal attache in Paris reported that Moussaoui had been in Chechnya assisting Chehen rebels which could have been enough to secure a FISA search warrant. The FBI mistake was thinking that Moussaoui had to be connected to an organization that the State Department listed as a foreign terrorist organization (which was not a FISA requirement). FISA does not require it be a “recognized foreign power” just a foreign power. So they spent about 3 weeks trying to connect the Chechen group to al-Qaeda! The FBI did not even try for a normal criminal search warrant and did not even make his presence public, which could have disrupted the plot!
? Minneapolis sent a memo to FBI headquarters stating that Moussaoui’s “possession of weapons and his preparation through physical training for violent confrontation” gave them reason to believe he “an others yet unknown” were conspiring to take control of an airplane. Minneapolis contacted the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center for more information on Moussaoui and a Minneapolis case agent sent an email on August 21, 2001 to the supervisory special agent in the RFU who was handling the matter. It said: “It is imperative that the [US Secret Service] be appraised of this threat potential indicated by the evidence … if [Moussaoui] seizes an aircraft from Heathrow to NYC, it will have the fuel on board o reach DC.” Yeah, not to mention the World Trade Center! On August 23, two FBI agents visited the Airman Flight School in Oklahoma City where Moussaoui first learned to fly … one of the agents had visited the school in 1999 to investigate the training there of UBL’s personal pilot!
? In August 2001, hijackers got state ID cards by simply attesting they were permanent residents of Virginia.
? In August 2001, President Bush began a 31-day vacation (by this date, he would have spent 42% of his time on vacation or on his way to vacation). He continued to receive PDBs six times a week, including the August 6th PDB titled “bin Laden Determined to Strike In US” which reads in part: “bin Laden wanted to hijack US aircraft to gain the release” of “Oman Abdul Rahman and others” and tells of “suspicious activity in the US consistent with preparations for highjackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” President Bush did not take executive action to alert the FAA, the Department of Defense, or other agencies that might have used this information to harden commercial aviation against attack. Graham says if President Bush “had taken the not unreasonable step of notifying the Federal Aviation Administration of the possibility that aircraft might be hijacked, that agency could have been on higher alert for suspicious passengers. If someone had take a further step and considered the fact that hijackings as al-Qaeda saw them not the same as ‘traditional’ hijackings, the FAA could have modified its protocols requiring pilots not to resist” (p. 83).
? Meanwhile, the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) on August 6th received by senior members of the intelligence community did not contain information on contemporary intelligence findings found in the PDB. Thus, “Congress and other senior intelligence officials were left ignorant of the chilling information about the potential attacks. These people were therefore unable to correct erroneous information or act on information that would have surely rung alarm bells had they seen it” (p. 83). The FAA thus never saw the words: “FBI information … indicates a pattern of activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” Graham asserts that at least three of the hijackers would not have been able to get on their planes if increased surveillance of passengers had occurred.
? On August 21, 2001, an FBI analyst assigned to the CTC reviewed CIA cables and learned that the CIA knew that al-Midhdar had a multiple-entry visa to the US and that al-Hazmi was already here! This put the men under serious suspicion. On August 23, the men’s names were put on the State Department’s TIPOFF watch list (this was 18 months after the CIA had obtained information identifying al-Midhdar and al-Hazmi as suspected terrorists carrying visas for travel to the US). On August 28, 2001, the FBI’s UBL unit sent the New York field office a document recommending it open an intelligence investigation to determine if al-Midhdar is still in the US. The FBI did not ask the State Department to track down visa violators to help locate the two, nor did the FBI canvass its own counterterrorism sources (including the FBI informant in San Diego who knew both them men and who had housed one of them). On September 5, the FBI determined al-Midhdar was not staying at any New York Marriott hotel and on September 10, the FBI New York City field office asked the LA office to check registration records at hotels they thought the two might be staying. It also asked the airlines United and Lufthansa for travel and alias information (the two men had entered and departed the US on these companies’ planes before).
? An RFU agent at FBI headquarters told a Minneapolis supervisor on August 27, 2001 that he was getting people spun up over Moussaoui. The supervisor said he was trying to get people spun up and trying to make sure Moussaoui “did not take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center.”
? On September 10, 2001, Mohammed Atta went to the World Trade Center (possibly to obtain coordinates with a global positioning device of the target). He also called KSM to get final approval to launch the attacks. And UBL called his mom in Syria to tell her she would not hear from him for a long time.
Saudi Arabian Involvement in 9/11
? Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national, was in the US, in San Diego, serving as a spy (denied by the FBI – see p. 11). According to Graham, his job was to keep an eye on Saudis in San Diego, especially college students engaged in activities that might threaten Saudi Arabia. Al-Bayoumi vouched for hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhdar (so that they would be accepted into the community and its mosque). Al-Bayoumi may have even picked up the two hijackers from LA (see p. 12). He denies it and claims he met the two men in a Middle Eastern restaurant just miles from the airport. Al-Bayoumi claimed the two men did not like it in Los Angeles and so he told them if they would like to move to San Diego they should just call him. Before picking up the two hijackers, al-Bayoumi met privately with an official from the consulate’s section on Islamic and cultural affairs, Fahad al-Thumairy, who was also a prayer leader at a local mosque in LA. Graham says of al-Thumairy: “With a number of suspected terrorist ties, he was no friend of the United States. In fact, in May 2003, the United States would revoke al-Thumairy’s diplomatic visa, ban him from the United States, and put him on a plane back to Riyadh” (p. 12).
? Graham summarizes the events: “That a suspected Saudi spy would drive 125 miles to a meeting at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, where he would meet with a consular officer with suspected terrorist ties, and then drive another seven miles to the one Middle Eastern restaurant – out of more than 134 Middle Eastern restaurants in Los Angeles – where he would happen to sit next to two future terrorists, to whom he would happen to offer friendship and support, cannot credibly be described as a coincidence” (p. 13).
? Less than a week after their supposed chance meeting, al-Bayoumi received a call from Nawaf al-Hazmi. He and al-Midhdar decided to move to San Diego and stayed at al-Bayoumi’s place until they could find their own. Al-Bayoumi also offered to supplement the funds they were receiving from home (Al-Bayoumi got money from Saudi Arabia, including the Saudi Kingdom, Ercan — a Saudi aviation services company, and the wife of spy Omar Bassnan, who was suspected of being groomed to replace al-Bayoumi in San Diego.
? One money trail to Omar al-Bayoumi was from Ercan (which contracted with Dallah Avco Aviation, a Saudi government contractor owned by Saleh Kamel, who is a member of the “Golden Chain” which provides money to UBL and al-Qaeda regularly. According to the evidence, al-Bayoumi showed up for work once and the supervisor wanted to fire him. The supervisor was told that if he was not kept on the payroll, Ercan’s contract would be terminated. When the company tried to end fire him, it got a letter from the director general of Saudi Civil Aviation which said it wanted al-Bayoumi’s contract renewed as quickly as possible. His monthly stipend for this job was $2,800 with allowances of $465 a month. After inviting al-Hazmi and al-Midhdar to San Diego and getting them places to live, his monthly allowance rose to $3,700. They stayed at that level until al-Hazmi left for Arizona.
? Osama Bassnan, al-Bayoumi’s friend, got money from the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC for surgery for his wife. He got a check for $15,000 but then needed more, so his wife made a separate request. She appealed to the Ambassador’s wife (Princess Haifa al-Faisal, and the Ambassador is Prince Bandar), and began getting checks every month between $2,000 and $3,000. In 2000, Bassnan began signing over her checks to a woman named Manal Bajadr (the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi). So, this money went to al-Hazmi and al-Midhdar. Graham says “to follow that stream of income is to trace a line from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the wife of one spy, to the wife of another, and ultimately to the hands of two plotting terrorists” (p. 168).
? Further, from January to May 2000, al-Bayoumi had a large number of phone conversations with Saudi officials in LA and DC.
? See the official account of all of this, according to the US government (pp. 168-169!)
? A week later, al-Hazmi and al-Midhdar found an apartment at Parkwood apartment complex, almost directly across the street from al-Bayoumi. Al-Boyoumi secured the apartment for the two hijackers and paid the first two months rent for them. Al-Bayoumi arranged a party for them to introduce the two hijackers to the Saudi community in San Diego. Al-Bayoumi videotaped his guests, as part of his surveillance job.
? Al-Bayoumi also invited the two men to his mosque, the principal mosque for Saudis in the San Diego area. There they met Mohdar Abdullah … Al-Bayoumi and Modhar Abdullah helped the two hijackers get driver’s licenses, car insurance, credit cards, and social security cards. He also helped them locate flight schools.
? Modhar Abdullah was urged by al-Bayoumi to befriend al-Hazmi and al-Midhdar in San Diego. He was arrested later for lying to a US immigration officer and was deported. He also admitted to having befriended hijacker Hani Hanjour.
? They also met Anwar Aulaqi, who would become their religious leader (Aulaqi is suspected of being the first person the two hijackers shared their plans with in the US). They became so close that when the two hijackers left for Virginia, Aulaqi followed. He may have driven Hanjour to New Jersey where he bought his ticket for American Flight 77.
? They also met Abdussatar Shaikh there, a retired English professor from San Diego State University. When al-Midhdar left the US in April 2000, al-Hazmi noticed that Shaikh had posted on the Mosque bulletin board that he had quarters in his home for a committed young Muslim. So al-Hazmi moved into his house. According to Graham, “Shaikh was on the payroll of the San Diego office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an agency asset. His job was to monitor the Saudi community in San Diego and report to the FBI any suspicious behavior he observed” (p. 20). As Graham says, incredibly, “Two future terrorists, both of whom would later be placed on the government’s watch list, were living under the nose of an FBI informant, and one would later actually live with him, yet the informant was never asked to draw more information from them, get closer to them, or gain their confidence” (pp. 20-21).
? In 1993, the FBI received reports that Bassnan had hosted a 1992 party in DC for Omar Abdul Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” who is now in prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and a plot to blow up the tunnels leading to Manhattan. The FBI did not investigate the reports!
? Al-Hazmi worked for a San Diego business whose manager was being investigated by the FBI for terrorism.
? A CIA memo dated August 2, 2002 concluded there is “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government.”
? al-Bayoumi was later detained in the UK at the request of the FBI and charged with visa fraud. He had a phone number of a contact of the Saudi embassy in London. The British asked the FBI if it had any questions for him and receiving no answer, it released him where he returned to Saudi Arabia. Osama Bessnan was deported to Saudi Arabia on November 17, 2002.
? In March 2004, an AP story said both men had been cleared as possible intelligence agents, yet the FBI told Graham that the story was not true and that no one had yet been cleared. Meanwhile, Prince Bandar uses the story as evidence that the allegations are false when he is asked about $27 million in suspicious transactions by the Saudi embassy by Tim Russert on the television show, Meet the Press. Later the FBI said the story was in fact correct that both men had been cleared after both men had been interviewed in Saudi Arabia in the presence of Saudi government officials! Graham then asked the Director of the FBI Robert Mueller for access to the FBI agents who interviewed them, and he said the Attorney General would have to give permission. First, the meeting was scheduled, then postponed, the rescheduled, and finally canceled forever. Ashcroft simply never called back when Graham repeatedly asked his permission.
? Mohdar Abdullah, who al-Bayoumi urged to befriend al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in San Diego, was ultimately arrested for lying to US immigration officials. He served a six-month sentence and was deported.
Main Findings of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11
? During the summer and spring of 2001, the intelligence community noticed a significant increase in information indicating that bin Laden and al-Qaeda intended to strike against US interests in the very near future.
? During the summer and spring of 2001, a modest but steady stream of intelligence indicated the possibility of terrorist attacks within the US.
? It was the general view of the intelligence community that the threatened attacks would most likely occur against US interests abroad, even though they knew UBL wanted to strike within the US.
? Since at least 1994, intelligence agencies received information indicating terrorist were contemplating using aircraft as weapons, and this information did not lead to any specific intelligence assessment of this form of threat or any government reaction to it.
? Intelligence agencies often failed to focus on relevant information regarding the 9/11 attacks or consider its collective significance in terms of a probable terrorist attack.
? Intelligence agencies were not well organized or equipped to meet the challenge posed by global terrorists focused on targets within the US.
? Serious gaps existed between the collection coverage provided by US foreign and US domestic intelligence capabilities.
? US foreign intelligence agencies paid inadequate attention to the potential for domestic attacks … the CIA’s failure to watch list suspected terrorists was due to a lack of emphasis on protecting the US homeland.
? The counter terrorism effort at home was hindered by ineffective domestic intelligence … the FBI was unable to identify and monitor the extent of activity by al Qaeda and other groups operating in the US.
? Neither the US government nor its intelligence agencies had a comprehensive counter terrorism strategy for combating the threat posed by UBL. The Director of Central Intelligence was unwilling or unable to marshal the full range of intelligence agency resources necessary to combat the growing threat to the US. Note: Richard Clarke characterized George Tenet as unable to do this but very willing and capable.
? Counter terrorism funding increased through the 1980s and 1990s but was uncertain since there were also growing priorities for intelligence agencies.
? Technology was not fully utilized in support of counter terrorism efforts.
? The intelligence community’s understanding of al Qaeda was inadequate because of insufficient analytic focus and quality … analysts were inexperienced, unqualified, and undertrained, and were often not given critical information.
? Translations were backlogged due to inadequate numbers of translators.
? The US government did not bring together in one place all terrorism-related information from all sources … intelligence agencies did not adequately share relevant counter terrorism information.
? The intelligence community did not effectively use human sources to penetrate al Qaeda.
? The FBI failed in its understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, especially during the summer of 2001 when it had access to an al Qaeda operative in the US (Zacarias Moussaoui).
? The US military was reluctant to use military assets in Afghanistan to conduct offensive counter terrorism efforts or to support or participate in CIA operations directed against al Qaeda.
? The intelligence community depended heavily on foreign intelligence and law enforcement services for counter terrorism information. [And some of these told us that al Qaeda terrorists were coming to the US to attack the US using planes as weapons]
? The activities of the 9/11 hijackers in the US appear to have been financed mostly from abroad … there was no coordinated effort to track terrorist funding and close down financial support networks for terrorists and there was a reluctance to do so. One example of the funding is that Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi received more than $100,000 in wired funds between July and September 2000. They used this money to get their pilots’ licenses through Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida.
? OTHER FINDINGS ARE STILL CLASSIFIED!
? Empathy: We must be able to understand our enemies … al Qaeda adapted to our war in Afghanistan by regrouping, decentralizing, and forming alliances with terrorist groups in more than 60 countries.
? Create a Director of National Intelligence to “make the entire US intelligence community operate as a coherent whole” (p. 240). For more on his or her responsibilities, see p. 256.
? Form a new domestic intelligence agency independent of law enforcement, such as the UK’s MI-5. Note: The MI-5 interviewed one of the eventual London subway bombers as part of an investigation into alleged plans to blow up a truck bomb in London and found him to be not a threat!
? Create a “all-source terrorism information fusion center that will dramatically improve the focus and quality of counter terrorism analysis and facilitate the timely dissemination of relevant intelligence information, both within and beyond the boundaries of the Intelligence Community” (p. 244). A counter terrorism fusion center was formed in the Department of Homeland Security but President Bush shifted the resources to the CIA’s Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC). According to Graham, TTIC is an FBI/CIA creation that is performing none of the needed vital tasks of filling the gaps between foreign and domestic intelligence, sharing information with state and local law enforcement, and assessing vulnerabilities. Graham says that “its existence seems largely to be an effort to keep power away from the Department of Homeland Security. Not only is TTIC not performing the full array of tasks we had intended for the fusion center, it has already embarrassed itself by failing to accurately perform the one task it does see as its responsibility, monitoring terrorist activity. In April 2004, TTIC’s analysis formed the basis of a State Department report that the number of terrorist acts carried out in 2003 had dropped to a thirty-year low – a seemingly politically motivated conclusion based on a selective use of the statistics. Secretary of State Colin Powell later called this report ‘a big mistake’” (p. 245).
? Recruit, train, diversify, reward, and maintain human intelligence assets, especially in the Middle East so that they can penetrate the target and learn of his capabilities and intentions.
? The President should take action to ensure that clear, consistent, and current priorities are established and enforced throughout the Intelligence Community, They should also be reviewed and updated annually to assure they are evolving with the threats.
? The National Security Council should prepare a US government-wide strategy for counter terrorism, that will identify and engage foreign policy, economic, military, intelligence, and law enforcement elements critical to a comprehensive plan.
? The FBI should strengthen and improve its domestic capability and institute measures to make counter terrorism a national FBI program, improve strategic analytic capabilities by assuring qualification, training, and independence of analysis …recruit FBI agents with needed linguistic skills … increase efforts to penetrate terrorist organizations … improve law training … maximize efforts to increase information sharing … improve FBI technology.
? Congress should regularly review intelligence agencies and operations.
? Attorney General and Director of FBI should provide in-depth training for use of FISA warrants … disseminate results of searches and surveillance authorized under FISA … develop implement a plan to use FISA authorities.
? House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees should examine the FISA Act and USA PATRIOT Act changes to FISA, to determine whether its provisions adequately address terrorist threats.
? Director of National Security Agency should present to Director of National Intelligence and Secretary of Defense a detailed plan to overcome various problems and make the NSA a full collaborating partner with CIA and FBI.
? Director of National Intelligence should expand and improve counter terrorism training programs … establish a Civilian Linguistic Reserve Corps … use joint tours for intelligence and law enforcement personnel and engage in joint exercises … enhance recruitment of ethnically and culturally diverse workforce.
? State Department and Justice Department should review bilateral and multilateral agreements to see how they might be modified to strengthen counter terrorism efforts.
? President should submit budget recommendations on intelligence budgets and Congress should provide funds for counter terrorism.
? Congress should maintain oversight of the Intelligence Community.
? President should review and consider amendments to Executive Orders and other policies and procedures that govern national security classification of intelligence information, in an effort to expand accessibility to other agencies and the American people, and Congress should consider the extent to which too much materials have been classified in threat to national security.
? Inspector Generals at each agency should “conduct investigation and reviews … to determine whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable for any omission, commission, or failure to meet professional standards in regard to the identification, prevention, or disruption of terrorist attacks, including the events of September 11th, 2001” (p. 267).
? Remove unnecessary barriers among intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
? Create a national watchlist center to coordinate and integrate all terrorist-related watch-lists.
? Investigate the possibility that foreign governments are providing support to and are involved in terrorist activity targeting the US and its interests.
Failures After 9/11
? Immediately after 9/11, Saudis were allowed to fly out of the US, which was denied by the Bush Administration for 3 years until reported by the 9/11 Commission. More than 140 Saudis (including several members of the bin Laden family) were flown out by September 19. At least one was thought to have terrorist ties and NONE were interviewed by the FBI. The FBI says it did not grant permission for those planes to leave but Prince Bandar (Saudi Ambassador to the US) says it did. Richard Clarke says he was approached by someone in the White House about the departures and that he approved it after saying to be sure no one was needed for interviews first.
? President Bush has held no one accountable for the failures that led to 9/11. Graham says: “I have identified twelve instances prior to September 11 in which the plot could have been interdicted. That it wasn’t is, by definition, a failure. It amazes me to this day that no one – not one single person – has been held accountable for the intelligence and other lapses that contributed to the failure to interdict the attack” (p. 113).
? The US Congress was told that if the USA PATRIOT Act was not passed immediately, the responsibility for more attacks would lie at the feet of members of Congress.
? President Bush has failed to pursue Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or other groups of global reach (although he said he would).
? President Bush has been lax in putting pressure on Syria. Has also not dealt with North Korea who sold materials to Libya and other nations. Nor has Bush dealt with Pakistan, whose Abdul Qadeer Khan passed on nuclear technology to various countries including Iran, Libya, and North Korea!
? President Bush has failed to protect the United States through “Delayed, half-hearted, and political use of the proposal to create and expeditiously activate a Department of Homeland Security” (p. 231). In fact, Bush did not want the office but rather just wanted an assistant in his cabinet to handle the job.
? We have not solved the anthrax attacks which were not connected to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 according to the Joint Inquiry.
? In 2000, the National Commission on Terrorism, chaired by Ambassador Paul Bremer (who would later head the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq) advised targeting states that support terrorism (Afghanistan, Syria, and North Korea were mentioned but Iraq was not).
? Graham agrees with Richard Clarke that President Bush (in early 2002) directed intelligence and military resources necessary to win the Afghanistan war to Iraq, which at the time was still unauthorized. This includes most of the armed Predator aircraft even when UBL was surrounded in Tora Bora. Graham reports on a meeting with General Tommy Franks where Franks said: “Senator, we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan … Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for an action in Iraq. The Predators are being relocated. What we are doing is a manhunt. We have wrapped ourselves too much in trailing Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. We’re better at beating a meat axe than finding a needle in a haystack. That’s not our mission, and that’s not what we are trained or prepared to do.” He also said: “We can finish this job in Afghanistan if we are allowed to do so. And there is a set of terrorist targets after Afghanistan. My first priority would be Somalia – there is no effective government to control the large number of terrorist cells. Next, I would go to Yemen. Its president is willing to help in the war on terrorism, but has no capabilities to do so. Iraq is a special case. Our intelligence there is very unsatisfactory. Some Europeans know more than we do on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction …”
? Graham also agrees with Clarke that the war on Iraq is a folly that left the war on terrorism incomplete “and a battered al-Qaeda left able to regroup and recruit” (p. xv). Graham says the war on Iraq is a diversion and his best proof is that we obviously cannot fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan and another war in Iraq because we diverted military and intelligence resources from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq in as early as February 2002.
? President Mubarak of Egypt told Graham: “You are making a big mistake if you attack Iraq. I know Saddam well. He is an egomaniac, but no fool. A war will be seen in streets of Cairo and Damascus as an attack on Islam; there’s no way to avoid it … You do not understand the consequences of your actions. If you succeed militarily – and you will – and if Iraq were to become a democracy, it would almost surely elect a religious extremist government. You will end up with another ayatollah as the head of the government. And that election could cause a cascading throughout the Middle East. The result of your actions, whatever their intentions, could well be two or three more Irans. Is that what you want?” The leaders of Lebanon and Syria said the same thing.
? Bush said in February 2002: “We have totally routed out one of the most repressive governments in the history of mankind, the Taliban.” But the Taliban still exists, even today. More recently President Bush said Iraq was on its way to becoming a free nation like Afghanistan … but Afghanistan is still not free from the Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters.
? President Bush failed to prepare for the war on Iraq and its consequences … and he failed to prepare us to judge whether Saddam Hussein or international terrorists pose a greater threat “by refusing to release the information he had in his possession as to the relative number of international terrorists and Iraqi operatives present in the United States” (p. 231). Graham asked Richard Clarke and Bob Woodward (who wrote two books on President Bush) whether President Bush compared the threats of al-Qaeda and Iraq and both said no. The decision started and ended with how evil Saddam Hussein was. According to Graham, al-Qaeda poses a greater evil: It is more capable, willing, and present to hurt us. Graham says there are hundreds of al Qaeda here. Graham alleges that there are between fifteen and twenty thousand al-Qaeda recruits who went through training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
? Graham says: “In the fall of 2002, the President allowed intelligence agencies under his control to present erroneous, misleading, and incomplete information to the Congress, our allies, and the American people in support of the war in Iraq” … “The President further adulterated that intelligence by selective use and presentation of the evidence to justify a preemptive war to the American people and the Congress, and to the world community at the United Nations” (p. 231).
? In fact, Graham alleges that when President Bush approached Congress on September 12th, 2001 for authorization to use force (against Afghanistan presumably), he actually left the language so broad that it would have justified any attack against any nation preemptively – it was a blank check. See p. 105 for the wording … it ends with “and to deter and preempt any related future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.” Thus, Senators concerned with the language drafted an alternative and “granted the President the authority to use force against those nations, organizations, and persons that were learned to be connected to the tragedy of September 11″ (p. 105). So, since Iraq was NOT connected to 9/11, the war on Iraq was NOT justified by the use of force resolution passed by Congress.
? Graham decided to propose amending the use of force resolution in October 2002 to explicitly allow the US to go after any group that threatened us, to launch a true global war on terror. At this time, the State Department had identified thirty-four international terrorist organizations, of which six shared characteristics of great concern: al-Qaeda, abu Nidal, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Palestinian Liberation Front, and Hezbollah (each is sponsored by a state that has WMDs, each has a long history of hating and killing Americans, and each has the ability to strike within the US). Congress gave the President the authority to go after only one of these groups. President Bush’s reply was that the Graham Amendment would slow the progress on considering the current resolution. Graham’s Amendment lost 88-10. The other resolution was passed 77-23 to give the President the authority he wanted.
? In 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans. It was directly overseen by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. According to Graham, “the Office of Special Plans circumvented the standard processes for reviewing intelligence and operated free of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has supplied operational intelligence information to Secretaries of Defense for over forty years. If you set up competing intelligence collection agencies, the users will simply take information from the agency whose conclusions are closest to what the user wants to hear, especially if one of those agencies is created simply to validate pre-formed opinions. Therefore, it was no surprise that the Office of Special Plans came up with some of the most terrifying – and inaccurate – claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and some of the most wildly optimistic pictures of the reception Americans would be given should we invade” (p. 158). In other words, the Bush Administration invented intelligence to justify the Iraq war.
? Dick Cheney, for example, alleged: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us … Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon” (p. 178). This logic made the case for war with Iraq a “slam dunk” according to CIA Director George Tenet. Amazingly, a study by the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform found that in October 2002, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice had made nearly 100 misleading or inflated statements about the threat posed by Iraq. Yeah, like the mushroom cloud!!! Bush said: “America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
? To get a sense of whether Iraq actually posed a threat to the US, the Joint Inquiry called CIA Director George Tenet to a closed session. After his testimony, the Senators requested to see the National Intelligence Estimate on the rationale for invading Iraq and the military and post invasion occupation expectations (the NIE is prepared by the National Intelligence Council and is the most comprehensive analytical document produced by the office of the Director of Central Intelligence … according to Graham, “It represents the combined wisdom of the intelligence agencies, with agencies encouraged to include their qualifications, nuances, and dissents in the final recommendation so that the reader can evaluate the credibility of the final estimate” [p. 179]. Tenet said NO NIE HAD BEEN REQUESTED BY THE WHITE HOUSE AND NONE HAD BEEN PREPARED!!!
? So, the Senators requested an NIE as soon as possible … Tenet said he could not produce the full NIE because his people were too busy with other intelligence functions, but he said he would prepare an NIE on Iraq’s programs of developing, building, and storing weapons of mass destruction. About three weeks later, a classified NIE was delivered, and it was roughly 90 pages long. According to Graham, the NIE did not justify the claim that the case against Iraq was a slam dunk. Graham says the NIE justified the war only if you ignore the caveats, dissenting views, and assessment of Saddam Hussein himself. Graham notes that the NIE concluded that “Saddam had shown little desire to attack the United States and had few if any contacts with al-Qaeda and no particular interest in assisting Osama bin Laden” (p. 181).
? Graham and the Senators asked Tenet to declassify the NIE on October 2 so it could be seen by the American people. The declassified report was returned two days later and was 25 pages long. Graham says they were struck that the production value of the unclassified version equaled or exceeded that of the classified version – it had maps, photos, and tables. Its conclusions were ominous and frightening and predicted a nuclear armed Iraq within one to ten years, an Iraq with more biological weapons than before the Gulf War, and an Iraq with unmanned aerial vehicles that were intended to be used to deliver biological agents [all of this was untrue by the way].
? As it turns out, the White House asked the CIA in the spring of 2002 for a document that could be used to make the public case for war on Iraq. This was the unclassified document given to the Joint Inquiry two days after it was requested [So this means the White House asked for a document that was inconsistent with the whole truth, simply to justify a war!]. As noted by Graham: “The problem was that it did not accurately represent the classified NIE we had received just days earlier. Gone were the assessments of Saddam Hussein’s intentions that had made the classified version of the document more balanced … Intent is a huge component of an intelligence assessment, and here it had been selectively removed” (p. 183).
? Compare Tenet’s “slam dunk” with the following: 1) We had no human penetration inside Iraq and, therefore, no means of independent, current verification of the intelligence; 2) The Defense Department was relying on exiles, especially the Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmad Chalabi [America paid Chalabi’s National Iraqi Congress $33 million. During the Iraq war, he allegedly told Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence that we had broken its top secret communications code.]; 3) Intelligence from other countries that whose intelligence we trust raised serious doubts that Saddam Hussein had the capabilities that were attributed to Saddam Hussein!
? Graham then sought more information from Tenet because of the discrepancies and three days later Tenet sent a three-page response. In it were these words:
“Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [chemical or biological weapons] against the United States.
Saddam might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamist terrorists in conducting a WMD attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact revenge.” Graham concludes: “In short, Saddam Hussein posed no threat to his neighbors or to the United States as long as he was left alone. Only when he was threatened did he become dangerous, and at that point it became possible that he might partner with a non-Iraqi terrorist organization” (p. 187). See the testimony of CIA Director George Tenet to the Joint Inquiry where he said the likelihood of a WMD attack by Saddam Hussein was low unless he was attacked, in which case it would be high (pp. 187-188).
? Information on Iraqi and al-Qaeda links is classified!!! It is illogical anyway. As explained by Graham, Saddam Hussein’s “leadership was not about pan-Islamic brotherhood or Muslim fundamentalism. It was about retaining and expanding his own power. Those facts alone argue that Saddam would not want to grant a foothold in Iraq to a group like al-Qaeda, which would be capable of undermining his power at home” (p. 189). In fact, the only evidence of an Iraq and al-Qaeda link established by Colin Powell when he made the US case for war to the UN was that a group affiliated with al-Qaeda (whatever that means) operated training camps in Iraq. The only problem was it operated in the Northern no-fly zone, where Saddam Hussein had no power and where the US could have bombed them at any time. Tenet even said to the Joint Inquiry: “Our understanding of the relationship between Saddam Iraq and al-Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank” (p. 189).
? In its July 2004 report on Iraq, the Senate Intelligence Committee found that there was no Iraq and al-Qaeda link. Yet, President Bush implied links between Iraq and al-Qaeda time and time again, and in many different ways.
? CIA’s classified assessment of the Iraq invasion said we would be increasing the threat level against the US by invading … after the war started, the CIA expressed concern that the “chaos after war would turn Iraq into a laboratory for terrorists” (p. 222) [also, a CIA assessment during the war suggested 3 possible outcomes, all of which were bad!].
? Five US agencies warned there would be significant armed resistance of a US led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
? Retired Marine General Joseph Hoar, a former commander of US forces in the Middle East, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May 2004: “I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure … We are looking into the abyss.” Larry Diamond, a former advisor to the US occupation authority in Iraq said: “If the current situation persists, we will continue fighting one form of Iraqi insurgency after another – with too little legitimacy, to little will and too few resources … There is only ne word for a situation in which you cannot win and you cannot withdrawal: Quagmire.” [also consider Bush’s own admission during an interview on the campaign trail that the war on terrorism is not really something you can win ... and Rumsfeld’s acknowledgment that our military was not going to defeat the insurgency in Iraq, that Iraq was going to have to do that politically ... and that the insurgency could go on for up to 12 years!].
? Consider all the claims about WMDs in Iraq … such as Rumsfeld’s claim that we know where they are and Bush’s joke to a black tie dinner in March 2004 where he showed slides of himself looking around parts of the White House saying, “Nope, no WMDs there.” [also consider Paul Wolfowitz’s admission that WMD were agreed upon as the justification for war based on convenience].
? Compare Powell’s UN speech with his previous claim about having eliminated the threat of Saddam Hussein to even his neighbors, not only with WMDs but also using conventional weapons (this claim was used to justify the crippling UN sanctions).
? In the winter and spring of 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz reached two conclusions: 1) That the US would be greeted as liberators; and 2) The Iraqis would turn on the oil to pay for the occupation and rebuilding of their country. Both of these were based on false intelligence validated by Rumsfeld’s Office of Special Plans. Graham calls this “incestuous amplification” where they reached a conclusion first and then the conclusion was endorsed and amplified with faulty intelligence [also consider the Downing Street Memo which said Bush was set on going to war and that the facts were being fixed around this policy].
? Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki was forced our of office fourteen months earlier than the end of his term for saying to Congress we would need several hundred thousand occupation troops.
Presidential Hindrance of the 9/11 Investigations
? President Bush repeatedly hindered full investigation into 9/11. Graham says he supported the idea of a Joint Inquiry, as did Cheney and Rice, but not an independent 9/11 Commission.
? The White House covered up important facts of 9/11 to protect intelligence agencies and our relationship Saudi Arabia [consider that President George Bush the first was Director of the CIA and consider the relationships between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family, as well as the bin Ladens!]
? The White House denied the Joint Inquiry access to the August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing that read in part “bin Laden wanted to hijack US aircraft to gain the release” of Oman Abdul Rahman and others and tells of “suspicious activity in the US consistent with preparations for highjackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” Intelligence representatives accurately described the PDB and once the White House learned this, the CIA refused to tell the American people what information had been given to the President, claiming this would disclose classified information. Thus, it would be allowed to see the information but not say the President had seen it! Graham says: “This decision flew directly in the face of the rules regarding classification: protection of sources and methods is a reasonable rationale for keeping something classified; but protecting an individual from embarrassment is not. Only in 2004 was another commission, the independent 9/11 Commission, officially given the PDB. Even then, the White House delayed releasing the information to the public, declassifying it only after much of it had been previously released” (p. 84).
? President Bush’s statements and those of his Administration about the 9/11 attacks are inaccurate. Graham says: “The first was that it was a surprise, a bolt from the blue. The second was that no one could have imagined such an attack carried out in such a manner. The third, that since no one could have envisaged the use of commercial aircraft as a weapon of mass destruction, no one could be held accountable. The forth was that for all of the devastation, the attack was basically quite simple, requiring nineteen people and a sum of money estimated between $175,000 and $250,000″ (p. 112). These are all false! In fact, the threats were many, and we knew it was coming … there were at least 12 instances in which intelligence found information outlining terrorist plans to use airplanes as weapons, there were at least 12 instances in which the plot could have been interdicted but mistakes by individual people assured it did not happen (and yet not a single person has been held accountable for their failures), and the plot was very complex and resilient. In fact, as Graham notes: “I find a pattern of substantial logistical, personnel, and kills development and financial support consistent with what the President was told in his fateful August 6 briefing. I further suspect that the pattern of such support was more pervasive than is currently known or acknowledged” (p. 113). Graham also says this structure of support was maintained by a nation-state [and no he does not say it was Iraq!].
? Graham asserts that “after September 11, members of the Bush administration would claim that nobody could have imagined that planes might be used as weapons, during the course of our inquiry, we found that the possibility had been imagined, investigated, and interdicted more than once, and that in one case the Pentagon had been a target”! His examples include: 1) Algerian terrorists who in 1994 tried to fly an Air France planed into the Eiffel Tower; 2) Project Bojinka in 1995 to blow up 11 planes simultaneously and crashing a twelfth into CIA headquarters and thirteenth into the Pentagon; 3) an August 2001 plot to fly a plane into a US embassy in Nairobi or bomb it from a plane (p. 81).
? As the Joint Inquiry got more specific in requested for witnesses and documents, the White House and intelligence agencies resisted.
? The White House classified materials and information, even that which was already known about by the media. For example, the contents of the August 6th PDB had already been broadcast and the name of an al Qaeda leader involved in the attacks had already been reported in the media, yet both were classified.
? The White House dragged its feet by classifying too much information … to get access to the classified material, the Joint Inquiry had to go to CIA Director George Tenet, who simply deferred to President Bush. The White House simply kept the materials classified until they could not be used in a public hearing.
? Graham says that “the more we learned, the less curious the administration seems about what had happened on September 11. The more we pressed for information, the more resistant the White House became to giving it up. In my view, this behavior bore all the hallmarks of a cover-up” (p. 202).
? The President opposed the “establishment of a homeland defense coordinator or the creation of a separate department with the mission of protecting the homeland … On June 6th, the President announced that he was switching his position, proposing a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security …” (p. 174). Bush drafted the homeland security proposal in secret over the course of seven weeks using only four inside aides and got no outside input.
? The White House leaked Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife’s name (CIA agent Valerie Plume) to the media to get back at Wilson for writing an editorial in the New York Times showing that Bush’s claims about Iraq obtaining yellow cake from Niger were false.
? After having the Joint Inquiry report for months, the CIA still had only read 200 pages of the 800 pages. Once they finished with it, huge parts of the text were blacked out: “Some of the very pieces of information that the CIA had declassified for the public staff statements of the Joint Inquiry were now reclassified … the argument being that although the individual pieces of information were unclassified, assembling them as we had created a ‘mosaic’ that now had to be classified” (p. 214). The report was finally released with all the blacked out material at least left in so that the public could see how much was left out.
? The final report was finally released on July 24, 2003 (more than seven months after it as submitted) … Yet: “Significant portions of virtually every section of the report had been censored” (p. 215). Graham says “there was one area that did not need to be kept secret, and it was the one area that the White House simply refused to relent. This was, not surprisingly, the section of the report that related to the Saudi government and the assistance that government gave to some and possibly all of the September 11 terrorists. This section had been redacted in its entirety, all twenty-seven pages. Senator Shelby and I, after rereading those twenty-seven pages, independently concluded that 95 percent of that material was safe for public consumption, and that these pages were being kept secret for reasons other than national security” (pp. 215-216).
? Graham points out the irony: “It was ironic to me that a President who had initially thought Iraq must have been the perpetrator of September 11, because only a nation-state could have carried out such a sophisticated and violent attack and avoid detection for twenty-one months, had now concluded that a nation-state had aided the terrorists should not be held publicity to account” (p. 216).
? Although the pages still have not been declassified, Graham asserts: “I can say unequivocally that the information they contain raises serious questions about Saudi Arabia’s governmental support for at least some of the terrorists” (p. 228).
? Graham also asserts that President Bush directed the FBI (through 2002) to restrain and obfuscate the investigation of the foreign government support that some and possibly all of the September 11 hijackers received.
? Graham asserts that: “The President has engaged in a cover-up, withholding from the American people the evidence that supplies the basis [for Graham’s charges] … by misclassifying information as national security data.” While the information may be embarrassing or politically damaging, its revelation would not damage national security” (p. 231).
? In addition to these allegations, Graham also asserts that someone instructed the FBI to withhold information from the Joint Inquiry. The discovery that two of the hijackers lived with an FBI asset in San Diego came five months after the Joint Inquiry had asked the FBI for all the information it had on 9/11. The Joint Inquiry wanted to interview Shaikh, but the FBI resisted. It said it has already interviewed him and found him to be innocent of having any knowledge about the 9/11 plot. Graham asserts: “The FBI could not, however, explain a number of inconsistencies in the informant’s statements, inconsistencies that our staff – not the FBI – had uncovered in reading the files” (p. 162). So the Joint Inquiry decided to depose him and make him testify under oath. And the FBI refused to serve him the subpoena! Further, both the FBI and the Justice Department refused access to him! So the Joint Inquiry delivered questions to him, weeks after they were prepared, and by the time he received them, he had secured a lawyer (a former Justice Department attorney). Graham says: “It challenges belief that a man who is so debt-laden that he has to take in boarders would just by chance find a former federal prosecutor who happened to have a strong relationship with the FBI” (p. 165). The lawyer said he would not answer questions unless he was given immunity! Graham says: “It seemed strange that an individual who claimed to have done nothing wrong, who the FBI was claiming had done nothing wrong, and who the FBI argued continued to be a valuable source of information, would request immunity” (p. 165). The FBI has never conducted a follow-up investigation. And the FBI insisted that the American people never be told about the relationship between the FBI informant and the hijackers. The FBI opposed public hearings on the subject and deleted any references to it from drafts of the unclassified reports. It was a year later that the FBI agreed to a heavily redacted version of the story to appear in the report.
? According to Graham, on November 18, 2002, a senior member of the FBI’s congressional affairs staff sent a letter to Graham and Goss explaining why the FBI had been so uncooperative. The letter said: “the Administration would not sanction a staff interview with the source. Nor did the Administration agree to allow the FBI to serve a subpoena or a notice of deposition on the source.” Graham says: “We were seeing in writing what we had suspected for some time: the White House was directing the cover-up” (p. 166).
? al-Hazmi and al-Midhdar began flight training in May at Sorbi’s Flying Club in San Diego, CA. They said they wanted to fly Boeing jets, but the chief flight instructor, Rick Garza, told them they’d have to start on something smaller such as a single-engine Cessna. Graham says: “It was immediately apparent that the two had little aptitude for aviation … their poor English prevented them from following instructions … they seemed woefully unaware of even the most basic principles of aviation. When asked to draw a plane, one man got the wings backward. When on of them was trying to land a single-engine Cessna, the other became frightened and began praying loudly to Allah … After a half-dozen lessons, it became clear that the two would never become pilots.” Garza gave up and called the two “dumb and dumber” (p. 26).
? Hani Hanjour was also a bad pilot. According to Graham: “One former instructor said in the cockpit Hanjour was unsure of himself, even frightened, particularly during exercises in which an engine is turned off in fligh so that a pilot can practice righting the plane and restoring power.” Further, after taking advanced courses in a Boeing simulator, “Hanjour’s instructors thought he was so bad a pilot and spoke such poor English that they contacted the FAA to check if his license was a fake” (p. 41).
? When Mohammed Atta and al-Umari flew from Portland, Maine to Boston, Massachusetts to connect to American Flight 11, they barely made it, but Atta’s bag did not. It contained a four-page letter and will in Arabic, with fifteen directives on how Atta was to prepare for his death on his last night. It included Muslim prayers and practical reminders to bring “knives, your will, ID, your passport” and a declaration to “make sure no one is following you.” It also says the men should crave death and “be optimistic.” For Atta’s words, see p. 92.
? Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhdar left a duffel bag at a local mosque in Laurel, Maryland with a note in it made out to “the brothers.” What was in the bag and who are the brothers?
? Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhdar frequented strip clubs in San Diego.
? Several hijackers also flew to Las Vegas (Atta, Hanjour, and al-Hazmi on August 13). Hanjour and al-Hazmi also had a stopover in Minneapolis on way back from Vegas to Baltimore, which is where Moussaoui started flight training the day before.
? Graham points out editorials that show eight months into his term, President Bush had no stated foreign policy, whatsoever.