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FBI Documents Raise Questions about Saudi and al-Aulaqi Connections to 9/11 Attacks | Judicial Watch
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained 79 pages of investigative reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) providing further evidence of ties between terrorist leaders Anwar al-Aulaqi and Omar al-Bayoumi, the government of Saudi Arabia, and FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) counter-terrorism investigations in the days leading up to the 9-11 terrorist attack.
Included in the new documents are dozens of pages of a case-establishing “Letterhead Memorandum” from the FBI’s Washington headquarters and San Diego field office. Limited portions of some of the memos had been previously released, but with many of the key elements heavily redacted. The documents came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the U.S. Department of State and FBI on June 4, 2012.
Among the new revelations contained in the 79 pages of documents are the following:
- The FBI had early suspicions about closer ties between Aulaqi and 9-11 hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi than Aulaqi admitted: “This data suggests a more pervasive connection between al-Hazmi and Aulaqi than he [Aulaqi] admitted to during his interview with the FBI.”
- The FBI had confirmed Aulaqi’s nexus with other FBI counter-terrorism investigations: “[Investigations] of Aulaqi reveal further links to other FBI International Terrorist investigations including … the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the United States.”
- The documents explicitly state that as far back as 2001, Omar al-Bayoumi was reportedly a Saudi intelligence agent: “An individual who has requested confidentiality has stated al-Bayoumi is believed to have worked for the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Service and reports on dissident Saudis in the U.S. Rental and other records indicate al-Bayoumi consistently indicated his occupation as a student.”
- Several pages of heavily redacted investigative reports contain analysis of pen registers of al-Aulaqi calls. These include a reference to an al-Aulaqi nexus with the DEA investigation, as well as contacts between al-Aulaqi and al-Bayoumi: “DEA Analysts are continuing analysis of telephone call activity …” and al-Aulaqi “… was also involved in call activity with … San Diego PENTTBOM subject OMAR AL-BAYOUMI. AL-BAYOUMI cosigned the lease of an apartment rented by [terrorist hijackers] NAWAF ALHAZMI and KHALID ALMIHDHAR.”
- Omar al-Bayoumi’s activities while in San Diego, California, were apparently on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia according to an unidentified FBI source: al-Bayoumi disclosed “to others at the Islamic Center of San Diego (ICSD) he had friends or contacts at the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles, California … [redacted] advised AL-BAYOUMI was extremely close to other ICSD Saudis … believed AL-BAYOUMI was in the United States on scholarship from the Saudi Airport Authority of Saudi Airlines ….” Saudi Airlines is the flag-carrying airline of Saudi Arabia.
- Omar al-Bayoumi was one of dozens of other Saudis in the U.S. on similar arrangements: “[Redacted] identified AL-BAYOUMI as a ghost employee of AVCO Oversees … estimated that there were approximately fifty (50) individuals carried on the books and PCA or Dallah and being paid for doing nothing.” Dallah AVCO is headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
According to a New York Times article on a secret Congressional report in 2003, Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national, was suspected of being a Saudi intelligence agent who may have reported to Saudi government officials. The article said that al-Bayoumi was employed by a contractor to the Saudi civil aviation authority, and received payments authorized by a Saudi official. According to the Times story, “The payments authorized by the Saudi official increased significantly after Mr. al-Bayoumi came in contact with the two hijackers in early 2000, the classified part of the report states.”
On September 11, 2013, Judicial Watch released surveillance reports and logs it had obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealing that FBI agents trailed al-Aulaqi to the front doors of the Pentagon on the day he spoke as an invited guest at a Department of Defense luncheon. The day before the surveillance and luncheon, al-Aulaqi had been identified as a “terrorist organization member,” and an FBI alert had been issued reading, “Warning – approach with caution . . . Do not alert the individual to the FBI’s interest and contact your local FBI field office at the earliest opportunity.” [Emphasis added] Judicial Watch had previously obtained documents from the U.S. State Departmentindicating that the (FBI) was aware on September 27, 2001, that al-Aulaqi had purchased airplane tickets for three of the 9/11 terrorist hijackers, including mastermind Mohammed Atta. Subsequent to the FBI’s discovery, al-Aulaqi was detained and released by authorities at least twice.
“These documents suggest that there remain serious questions about what is obviously Saudi intelligence asset was doing in assisting the 9/11 hijackers,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “As these newly released documents confirm, as far back as the 9-11 attacks, the FBI had substantial evidence that both al-Aulaqi and al-Bayoumi were involved in 9/11. Yet, neither was arrested, one was not punished for a dozen years, and the other still roams free. We intend to keep digging into this critical issue. It should cause concern that none of these questions were answered before Obama ordered al-Aulaqi’s controversial assassination.”
It’s time to put a cap on 2013. It’s a year that, for liberty’s sake, would have best been thrown into the crapper.
The U.S. system is a totalitarianism that has over the past year begun to lose even its veneer of benevolence. This is typical of governments, which naturally grow, increasingly centralize power and become more corrupt.
As countries have more and more centralized power (fascist state), the people have less and less freedom. Propaganda is intensified, vital information is withheld, and peoples’ expectations are manipulated. In reality this mind manipulation and control are nothing less than an assault upon the mental and physical body. It is all accepted gradually — so gradually that most of the people never become alerted to lost freedoms.
It is this gradual, insipid assault on the people and freedom that we battle every day. That is our purpose here at Personal Liberty Digest™.
It’s customary as each year draws to a close for media organizations to cover the year’s big stories. Those decisions are usually quite subjective and are made by people living in an insular bubble of their own design. Their ideas are generally an echo chamber of groupthink.
The wonders of the Internet allow us to use a different metric in determining the big stories. It is you, the readers, who determined for us what was important and what was controversial. You did so by your responses.
What follows are the top stories based upon input you didn’t realize you were providing. They are the stories written by me that had the highest number of viewers. You think this isn’t the best way to list them? Wait until you read them to decide. Most of them deal directly with the growing fascist state.
No. 1: Viewed 53,832 Times
Proof Of A U.S. Police State
America has fast descended into a police state. The trouble is that we want to believe in the rule of law and the system that alleges to support and enforce it. But when reality collides with illusion, it is too late. No matter how bad things seem, we always think that times will get better and that government will do the right thing.
Only a few people left Germany in the early 1930s. They could clearly see the evolving tyranny. Many who stayed thought that things would not get so bad or that times would get better. They suffered from normalcy bias, a form of cognitive dissonance. They paid.
The wisdom today is in being able to see what is happening and having the vision to discern what is going to happen. Sorry. Anyone who still believes in the illusion of the rule of law will not see reality until it’s too late to do what is necessary to survive and keep their assets.
Today, the rule of law is what the 1 percent (the government) says it is. The government holds the police power and the military power. Its main purpose is to be the silent force to contain the population.
The population in the United States is well-armed. That fact does not escape the 1 percent. That is why the 1 percent is so eager to find a basis upon which to justify disarming the people. The armed populace is all that stands between the people and full-blown tyranny.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 2: Viewed 35,776 Times
Is Government Readying For A Shooting War Against Gun Owners?
Gun grabbing lawmakers at both the State and Federal level continue to push forward with their anti-American, anti-2nd Amendment, anti-gun agendas, even as more individuals, State legislatures and manufacturers of weapons, weapons accessories and ammunition push back. It almost seems as if the elected class is itching for a fight.
And when one considers that the Department of Homeland Security has contracted for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition — much of it hollow points or for use in sniper rifles — for its 55,000 armed agents, plus 2,717 armored personnel carriers and 7,000 select fire “personal defense weapons,” it seems even more apparent that’s the goal. For perspective, 1.6 billion rounds is enough to fight the Iraq war for 20 years. It’s enough to shoot every American five times. It’s 28,000 tons, or the equivalent of three guided missile destroyers. It’s almost 30,000 target practice rounds per armed agent — but of course, because they are more expensive, hollow points are not used for target practice.
These purchases have long concerned many of those who pay attention. But only the alternative media talked about it — to derision and catcalls — until Feb. 15. That’s when The Denver Post ran an article by The Associated Press about the purchases. That prompted a column by Ralph Benko at Forbes.com in which he said it’s time for a national conversation about the purchases.
More than that, it’s time for a national conversation on the link between the purchases and the ongoing push by the elected class to collapse the economy and pass legislation against the will of the people.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 3: Viewed 31,083 Times
Prepare For A Grid-Down Scenario
On Nov. 13-14, America’s major electricity generating companies along with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and government agencies in Canada and Mexico will conduct a drill to test system responses to cyberattacks and physical attacks on the North American electrical grid that cause its widespread failure.
The drill is called GridEx II, and it moves the threat of a total electrical blackout that sends the country back into the 19th century from the stuff of science fiction and/or tinfoil hattery to the mainstream. According to The New York Times, the drill is designed to:
practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate.
“This is different from a hurricane that hits X, Y and Z counties in the Southeast and they have a loss of power for three or four days,” said the official in charge of the drill, Brian M. Harrell of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC. “We really want to go beyond that.”
One goal of the drill… is to explore how governments would react as the loss of the grid crippled the supply chain for everyday necessities.
Should the grid collapse, those with medical conditions requiring machines to keep them alive or stable could be in trouble quickly, but most people could easily survive without power for two or three days. It’s not unusual for major storms to knock out power for that long. But longer-term power outages turn into desperate situations as water and food run low and/or generators run out of fuel. Google Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy to see how some people fared during long-term localized outages.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 4: Viewed 31,036 Times
An Open Letter To The Elected Class Regarding Gun Control
I realize it is customary to begin missives to elected representatives with the words Honorable Senator ______________ or Honorable Representative ______________, but I believe that title must be earned. Frankly, you (I am referring to you individually and to Congress as a whole) have not done so and, therefore, do not deserve to be addressed that way. However, the purpose of this letter is not to criticize you, but to inform you about what is happening in the country you were elected to serve.
According to a recent poll, Congress’ favorability ranks below lice, cockroaches, colonoscopies and root canals. Have you for a moment stopped to wonder why? It’s because a vast majority of Americans believe that Congress no longer represents them, but instead represents big corporations and, mostly, themselves and their cronies. The recent “fiscal cliff” deal is a perfect example. It socked a tax increase on 80 percent of American workers while doling out $76 billion in government money (which means my money) through special tax favors to large corporations, such as General Electric, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and DIAGEO, and to Hollywood and green energy companies. According to a recent column in The Washington Examiner, Senator Max Baucus’ (Fascist-Mont.) former staffers who are now lobbyists all got their clients millions of dollars in special benefits from the fiscal cliff deal. In return, Baucus received thousands of dollars in political contributions from those companies’ political action committees. Americans, myself included, believe this is standard operating procedure in Washington, D.C. And there is talk that additional tax increases on the middle class are on the way.
Upon your inauguration, you swore an oath, with your hand on a Bible, to uphold and defend the Constitution. You have repeatedly violated that oath by passing unConstitutional laws like the USA Patriot Act (and subsequent extensions) and the National Defense Authorization Act, which grants the President the authority to indefinitely detain American citizens and suspends habeas corpus. If I’m not mistaken, these unConstitutional laws contain provisions that in some way violate Amendments 1, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9. That’s quite a feat for two laws.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 5: Viewed 29,619 Times
More Blood On Obama’s Hands
The overhyped and superfluous George Zimmerman trial is winding down, and Florida’s law enforcers are growing antsy. That’s because they’re seeing in social media and hearing from the streets that if Zimmerman is acquitted in a trial that never should have been held to begin with, blacks will riot and kill whites.
If there are riots and people are injured and property is damaged, President Barack Obama and his Department of Justice will be to blame. The blood will be on their hands.
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, Obama claimed that if he had a son, Trayvon Martin is what he’d look like. Then the DOJ dispatched its Community Relations Service (CRS) team to Florida to hold “marches, demonstrations, and rallies” on Martin’s behalf. According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, the DOJ spent more than $3,800 to incite racial tensions in Sanford, Fla., and oust the police chief because Zimmerman was not charged immediately in Martin’s death. One of the rallies sponsored by CSR was headlined by the notorious race-baiter Al Sharpton. CSR-sponsored rallies went on for a couple of weeks; and if sparking unrest was the goal, the money was well-spent.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 6: Viewed 28750 Times
How To Avoid The Obamacare Death Trap
We are less than one year out from healthcare tyranny under the oligarchy-endorsed Obamacare.
It’s very deceptive to call Obamacare socialized medicine. The law has nothing to do with healthcare. It’s just the opposite. It’s sickness care. The Nazis had their gas chambers and America has “medical care,” which is the most sophisticated killing machine that demented minds can create.
Americans are mentally dependent on the “medical” brainwash. When our dumbed-down people hear the trigger word “medical care,” they go blind and hyperventilate. They do not know a scam from a sham. They will go unanimous for anything with the term “healthcare” in it.
Obamacare is not healthcare. It has absolutely nothing to do with healthcare. It’s a great transfer of wealth and population control with a ticket to the death panels when we are no longer considered productive citizens.
As the paper money regime collapses, the money creators are speeding up the printing presses in a desperate ploy to transfer the wealth of the American people before it becomes worthless anyway. It is disguised warfare against the American people.
It reminds one of the last days of the Nazi regime. As the cities were reduced to rubble, German citizens were being shot for “treason.” In the last days of any regime, the process of oppression of citizens is intensified.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 7: Viewed 28,735 Times
DHS Suggests Christians, Constitutionalists Should Get Extra Surveillance From LEOs
Big government progressives and collectivists love labels. They seem to come up with a new one almost daily, as they seek to isolate and demonize one small segment of the population at a time that they can identify as “extremist” and then dismiss from any discussion about the country’s direction.
The Department of Homeland Security and the military have, in reports published over the past several years, equated a large segment of the U.S. population with terrorists for simply expressing displeasure of the nation’s course, preparing for disaster or even paying in cash. DHS and the Barack Obama regime are aided in this endeavor by government propaganda arm mainstream media and organizations like the Southern Preposterous Lie Center (aka Southern Poverty Law Center), see here, here and here.
Now, true to its communistic-sounding roots, DHS is becoming exceedingly fearful of Christians who believe the Bible is God’s word, Christian “fundamentalists” (whatever those are), Americans who believe the country was founded on Godly principles and those who believe the Constitution stands as the law of the land. In training materials, DHS has lumped Christians and Constitutionalists in with a group it calls the sovereign citizen movement and identified them as requiring special surveillance by law enforcement.
In a letter to a conservative blogger, Prowers County (Colo.) Undersheriff Ron Trowbridge revealed what he learned during a recent training course conducted by Colorado State Patrol (CSP) Trooper Joe Kluczynski, a CSP analyst for the Colorado Information Analysis Center, (CIAC). CIAC is funded by DHS and run by the CSP, and the training materials Kluczynski used came from DHS.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 8: Viewed 28,546 Times
Boston And More Government Lies
The Saudi Arabian “person of interest” who was hospitalized with serious injuries and then held under guard at a hospital because he was suspected of playing a part in the Boston Marathon bombing is just a college student who happened to be enjoying the annual spectacle.
Two Chechnyan brothers — one a naturalized U.S. citizen — who heretofore were unknown to the U.S. security apparatus, became radicalized for unknown reasons. Using instructions found online, they fabricated bombs using kitchen utensils, hardware junk and fireworks, concealed them in a backpack and duffle bag and detonated them near the finish line of the race.
Days later, after the FBI solicited the help of the public in identifying two men in grainy video images, the two Chechnyan brothers came out of hiding, killed an MIT police officer in cold blood in an effort to steal his sidearm, car jacked an Asian man, drove to a convenience store and robbed it, then engaged in a firefight with police. The two men were armed with a small arsenal of five pipe bombs, an M-4 carbine, two handguns and a BB gun. They planned to kill as many people as they could and then, depending on who is talking, blow up New York or party there, authorities said.
During the early morning hours of Friday, April 19, the two men battled with police, exchanging gunfire and exploding at least one of their bombs. At least 200 rounds were fired by the cops. The suspects fired back 80 or more at police. The older brother, identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was apprehended when he ran toward police while firing his weapon. Tamerlan was on the ground being handcuffed by police when younger brother Dzhokhar — by all accounts of friends a nice and friendly guy who had never expressed jihadist opinions — drove over him in a stolen SUV, dragging the body at least 30 feet before it became disentangled from the vehicle’s undercarriage.
This violent exchange, in which police believe they wounded Dzhokhar, led to a voluntary lockdown of the town of Watertown, part of greater Boston. Residents and business owners were encouraged but not forced to stay inside all of Friday while police, FBI and National Guard troops and equipment scoured the neighborhood for the criminal terrorist. Police tactical units, armed in full SWAT or military gear conducted house-to-house searches, asking people to exit their homes at gunpoint, strongly encouraging them (with threats) to raise their hands (even if they were of different sex, race and age of the known suspect) and be frisked.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 9: Viewed 28,371 Times
Adam Kokesh Has Been ‘Disappeared’
Adam Kokesh, the Iraq war veteran and host of the Internet radio program “Adam vs. The Man” who became a staunch opponent of the “war on terror” and who planned a peaceful armed march on Washington, D.C., on July 4, was disappeared in broad daylight while speaking at a Smoke Down Prohibition rally in Philadelphia May 18.
Kokesh’s kidnapping came at the hands of Philadelphia police and other LEOs (legally entitled to oppress) who dragged him off the stage just after he began to speak. A video of the incident shows Kokesh being dragged away without resisting. Arresting “authorities” initially claimed Kokesh was to be charged with resisting arrest. But it seems they realized it’s hard to resist arrest when your arrest is illegal, so they apparently changed the charges to “forcibly assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded and interfered with officers and employees of the United States,” according to these documents. If that’s the case, then apparently standing with your hands up while an inept LEO tries to wrestle you to the ground is now “assault” in the eyes of a government that deems you a terrorist and then targets you for special “scrutiny” if you exercise your 1st Amendment guaranteed right of freedom of speech, claim to be a Tea Partier, hoard food and water, and/or support small government.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
No. 10: Viewed 27,775 Times
President Harrison J. Bounel
Who is Harrison J. Bounel? According to the 2009 tax return submitted by President Barack Obama, he’s the President of the United States. All nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices are scheduled to discuss this anomaly today.
The case in question is Edward Noonan, et al v. Deborah Bowen, California Secretary of State, and the Justices are finally looking at it thanks to the dogged determination of Orly Taitz. The case calls into question many of the documents Obama (Bounel, Soetoro, Soebarkah, etc.) has used and/or released as authentic since he came on the national scene. The case contends that the documents — birth certificate, Social Security number, Selective Service registration, etc. — are fakes or forgeries. If that’s the case, Obama should not have been on the California ballot in 2008 and, therefore, should not have received the State’s electoral votes.
Four of the nine Justices must vote to move the case forward. We’ll see.
Meantime, on Feb. 4, Kathleen O’Leary, presiding judge of the 4th District Court of Appeal, reinstated the appeal of Taitz v. Obama et al filed by Taitz when she ran for Senate. That case involves evidence of 1.5 million invalid voter registrations in the State of California. The appeal also involves Obama’s lack of legitimacy to hold the office of President based on his forged IDs, stolen Connecticut Social Security number, the fact the last name he’s using is not legally his and his fraudulent claim to be the U.S. citizen.
To read the rest of the article, go here.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the page is finally turning on 2013.
Even Before 9/11, NSA Knew In Real-Time Which Countries Both Parties to Phone Calls Were In
In finding the NSA’s metadata collection program legal today, Judge William Pauley III ruled:
The September 11th terrorist attacks revealed, in the starkest terms, just how dangerous and interconnected the world is. While Americans depended on technology for the conveniences of modernity, al-Qaeda plotted in a seventh-century milieu to use that technology against us. It was a bold jujitsu. And it succeeded because conventional intelligence gathering could not detect diffuse filaments connecting al-Qaeda.
Prior to the September 11th attacks, the National Security Agency (“NSA”) intercepted seven calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who was living in San Diego, California, to an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The NSA intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar’s telephone number identifier. Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States. Telephony metadata would have furnished the missing information and might have permitted the NSA to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) of the fact that al-Mihdhar was calling the Yemeni safe house from inside the United States.
The Government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world. It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program—a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data.
This blunt tool only works because it collects everything. Such a program, if unchecked, imperils the civil liberties of every citizen. Each time someone in the United States makes or receives a telephone call, the telecommunications provider makes a record of when, and to what telephone number the call was placed, and how long it lasted. The NSA collects that telephony metadata. If plumbed, such data can reveal a rich profile of every individual as well as a comprehensive record of people’s associations with one another.
Judge Pauley is uninformed … and he fell for the “big lie” behind NSA spying.
Bill Binney – the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, senior technical director within the agency who managed thousands of NSA employees, interviewed by CBS, ABC, CNN, New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, PBS and many others – told Washington’s Blog:
[NSA chief Keith] Alexander wants you and everybody (including this clueless judge) to believe that caller ID does not work. First of all, all the calls that are made in the world are routed by machines. And, with machines, you have to tell them exactly what to do. Which means, the routing instructions calling nr and called nr have to be passed through the machines to route the call to get from point A to point B in the world.
So, he is feeding everyone a line of crap. If you buy into this, I have a bridge I would like to sell.
Also, all calls going from one region of the world to another are preceded by 01 or 011 in region “1″ (US/Canada/some islands) or by “00″ in the rest of the world. And that goes both ways on any call.
The Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) numbering plan is how we could eliminate all US to US calls right up front and never take them in.
In other words, while Binney headed NSA’s global digital communications gathering efforts prior to 9/11, his team knew in real-time which countries calls were made from and received in. The NSA is lying if it claims otherwise.
“There were plenty of opportunities without having to rely on this metadata system for the FBI and intelligence agencies to have located Mihdhar,” says former Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who extensively investigated 9/11 aschairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee.
Mihdhar was on the intelligence community’s radar at least as early as 1999. That’s when the NSA had picked up communications from a “terrorist facility” in the Mideast suggesting that members of an “operational cadre” were planning to travel to Kuala Lumpur in January 2000, according to the commission report. The NSA picked up the first names of the members, including a “Khalid.” The CIA identified him as Khalid al Mihdhar.
The U.S. got photos of those attending the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia, including of Mihdhar, and the CIA also learned that his passport had a visa for travel to the U.S.
Let’s turn to the comments of FBI Director Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary Committee last week.
Mueller noted that intelligence agencies lost track of Mihdhar following the January 2000 Kuala Lumpur meeting but at the same time had identified an “Al Qaida safe house in Yemen.”
He continued: “They understood that that Al Qaida safe house had a telephone number but they could not know who was calling into that particular safe house. We came to find out afterwards that the person who had called into that safe house was al Mihdhar, who was in the United States in San Diego. If we had had this [metadata] program in place at the time we would have been able to identify that particular telephone number in San Diego.”
In turn, the number would have led to Mihdhar and potentially disrupted the plot, Mueller argued.
(Media accounts indicate that the “safe house” was actually the home of Mihdhar’s father-in-law, himself a longtime al Qaida figure, and that the NSA had been intercepting calls to the home for several years.)
The congressional 9/11 report sheds some further light on this episode, though in highly redacted form.
The NSA had in early 2000 analyzed communications between a person named “Khaled” and “a suspected terrorist facility in the Middle East,” according to this account. But, crucially, the intelligence community “did not determine the location from which they had been made.”
In other words, the report suggests, the NSA actually picked up the content of the communications between Mihdhar and the “Yemen safe house” but was not able to figure out who was calling or even the phone number he was calling from.
Theories about the metadata program aside, it’s not clear why the NSA couldn’t or didn’t track the originating number of calls to Yemen it was already listening to.
Intelligence historian Matthew Aid, who wrote the 2009 NSA history Secret Sentry, says that the agency would have had both the technical ability and legal authority to determine the San Diego number that Mihdhar was calling from.
“Back in 2001 NSA was routinely tracking the identity of both sides of a telephone call,” [9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow] told ProPublica.
There’s another wrinkle in the Mihdhar case: In the years after 9/11, media reports also suggested that there were multiple calls that went in the other direction: from the house in Yemen to Mihdhar in San Diego. But the NSA apparently also failed to track where those calls were going.
In 2005, the Los Angeles Times quoted unnamed officials saying the NSA had well-established legal authority before 9/11 to track calls made from the Yemen number to the U.S. In that more targeted scenario, a metadata program vacumming the phone records of all Americans would appear to be unnecessary.
Richard Clarke, who was the White House counterterrorism czar beginning in 1998 and through 9/11, told ProPublica that the NSA had both the ability and legal authority to trace calls from Mihdhar to Yemen in 2000.
“….Since they had one end of the calls (the Yemen number), all they had to do was ask for any call connecting to it.”
Indeed, the NSA and other U.S. government agencies had been spying on Midhar for a long time before 9/11.
Initially, an FBI informant hosted and rented a room to Mihdhar and another 9/11 hijacker in 2000.
Investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House.
As the New York Times notes:
Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence ….The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.
Moreover, Wikipedia notes:
Mihdhar was placed on a CIA watchlist on August 21, 2001, and a note was sent on August 23 to the Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) suggesting that Mihdhar and Hazmi be added to their watchlists.
On August 23, the CIA informed the FBI that Mihdhar had obtained a U.S. visain Jeddah. The FBI headquarters received a copy of the Visa Express application from the Jeddah embassy on August 24, showing the New YorkMarriott as Mihdhar’s destination.
On August 28, the FBI New York field office requested that a criminal case be opened to determine whether Mihdhar was still in the United States, but the request was refused. The FBI ended up treating Mihdhar as an intelligence case, which meant that the FBI’s criminal investigators could not work on the case, due to the barrier separating intelligence and criminal case operations. An agent in the New York office sent an e-mail to FBI headquarters saying, “Whatever has happened to this, someday someone will die, and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’” The reply from headquarters was, “we [at headquarters] are all frustrated with this issue … [t]hese are the rules. NSLU does not make them up.”
The FBI contacted Marriott on August 30, requesting that they check guest records, and on September 5, they reported that no Marriott hotels had any record of Mihdhar checking in. The day before the attacks, the New York office requested that the Los Angeles FBI office check all local Sheraton Hotels, as well as Lufthansa and United Airlines bookings, because those were the two airlines Mihdhar had used to enter the country. Neither the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network nor the FBI’s Financial Review Group, which have access to credit card and other private financial records, were notified about Mihdhar prior to September 11.
Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Congressman Curt Weldon alleged in 2005 that the Defense Department data mining project Able Danger identified Mihdhar and 3 other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaeda cell in early 2000.
We reported in 2008:
As leading NSA expert James Bamford – the Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings for almost a decade, winner of a number of journalism awards for coverage national security issues, whose articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including cover stories for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and the only author to write any books (he wrote 3) on the NSA – reports, the NSA was also tapping the hijackers’ phone calls inside the U.S.
Specifically, hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi lived in San Diego, California, for 2 years before 9/11. Numerous phone calls between al-Mihdharand Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego and a high-level Al Qaeda operations base in Yemen were made in those 2 years.
The NSA had been tapping and eavesdropping on all calls made from that Yemen phone for years. So NSA recorded all of these phone calls.
Indeed, the CIA knew as far back as 1999 that al-Mihdhar was coming to the U.S. Specifically, in 1999, CIA operatives tailing al-Mihdhar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, obtained a copy of his passport. It contained visas for both Malaysia and the U.S., so they knew it was likely he would go from Kuala Lumpur to America.
NSA veteran Bill Binney previously told Washington’s Blog:
Of course they could have and did have data on hijackers before 9/11. And, Prism did not start until 2007. But they could get the data from the “Upstream” collection. This is the Mark Klein documentation of Narus equipment in the NSA room in San Francisco and probably other places in the lower 48. They did not need Prism to discover that. Prism only suplemented the “Upstream” material starting in 2007 according to the slide.
Another high-level NSA whistleblower – Thomas Drake – testified in a declaration last year that an NSA pilot program he and Binney directed:
Revealed the extent of the connections that the NSA had within its data prior to the [9/11] attacks. The NSA found the array of potential connections among the data that it already possessed to be potentially embarrassing. To avoid that embarrassment, the NSA suppressed the results of the pilot program. I had been told that the NSA had chosen not to pursue [the program] as one of its methods for combatting terrorism. Instead, the NSA had previously chosen to delegate the development of a new program, named “Trailblazer” to a group of outside contractors.
And U.S. and allied intelligence heard the 9/11 hijackers plans from their own mouths:
- According to Le Monde, the intelligence services of America’s close ally France and of other governments had infiltrated the highest levels of Al-Qaeda’s camps, and actually listened to the hijackers’ debates about which airlines’ planes should be hijacked, and allied intelligence services also intercepted phone conversations between Al-Qaeda members regarding the attacks
- According to journalist Christopher Ketcham, America’s close ally Israel tracked the hijackers’ every move prior to the attacks, and sent agents to film the attack on the World Trade Centers
- The National Security Agency and the FBI were each independently listening in on the phone calls between the supposed mastermind of the attacks and the lead hijacker. Indeed, the FBI built its own antenna in Madagascar specifically to listen in on the mastermind’s phone calls
- According to various sources, on the day before 9/11, the mastermind told the lead hijacker “tomorrow is zero hour” and gave final approval for the attacks. The NSA intercepted the message that day and the FBI was likely also monitoring the mastermind’s phone calls
- Shortly before 9/11, the NSA also intercepted multiple phone calls to the United States from Bin Laden’s chief of operations
- According to the Sunday Herald, two days before 9/11, Bin Laden called his stepmother and told her “In two days, you’re going to hear big news and you’re not going to hear from me for a while.” U.S. officials later told CNN that “in recent years they’ve been able to monitor some of bin Laden’s telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded.” Indeed, before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother.
- And according to CBS News, at 9:53 a.m on 9/11, just 15 minutes after the hijacked plane had hit the Pentagon, “the National Security Agency, which monitors communications worldwide, intercepted a phone call from one of Osama bin Laden’s operatives in Afghanistan to a phone number in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia”, and secretary of Defense Rumsfeld learned about the intercepted phone call in real-time (if the NSA monitored and transcribed phone calls in real-timeon 9/11, that implies that it did so in the months leading up to 9/11 as well)
But even with all of that spying, the government didn’t stop the hijackers … even though 9/11 wasentirely foreseeable. Moreover, the entire “lone wolf” theory for mass surveillance is false. In reality, 9/11 was state-backed terror.
As such, blaming 9/11 on a lack of ability of the NSA to spy is wholly false.
As TechDirt notes:
The [court’s] footnote refers to the 9/11 Commission Report whose findings directly contradict this narrative. The problem was not that the information wasn’t there. It was that it wasn’t shared. It was the fact that the CIA lost al-Mihdhar, but rather than issue an alert or place him on a watch list, it chose to do nothing. Many things went wrong, but not having the intel wasn’t the issue.
Indeed, the Boston Bombing proves that mass surveillance isn’t what’s needed. Even though the allegedBoston bombers’ phones were tapped – and NBC News reports, “under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the government has been collecting records on every phone call made in the U.S.” – mass surveillance did not stop the other terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
In reality – despite the government continually grasping at straws to justify its massive spying program – top security experts say that mass surveillance of Americans doesn’t keep us safe. Indeed, they say that mass spying actually hurts U.S. counter-terror efforts (more here and here).
The U.S. government’s cover-up of a Saudi connection in the 9/11 terrorist attacks is receiving new attention because a pair of legislators—one Republican, one Democrat—recently viewed a redacted chunk of a congressional report that confirms foreign state involvement in the plot.
Americans have been told that Al Qaeda acted alone on September 11, 2001 and that there were no state sponsors. In fact, the George W. Bush administration blacked out dozens of pages of a congressional investigative report on 9/11 that dealt with specific sources of foreign support for the 19 hijackers, most of whom were Saudi nationals.
Judicial Watch quickly launched an investigation and in 2005 obtained shocking documents from the FBI detailing how well-connected Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, left the U.S. on specially chartered flights while most air traffic was still grounded. In all, 160 subjects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including but not limited to members of the House of Saud and/or members of the bin Laden family fled the U.S. between September 11, 2001 and September 15, 2001.
The records uncovered by JW show that two prominent Saudi families that fled the U.S. following 9/11 got personal airport escorts from the FBI and that authorities let other Saudis leave the country without first interviewing them. The secret Saudi flights left from Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities. An unidentified prince in Las Vegas even thanked the FBI for its assistance, according to one internal report obtained by JW. Incredibly, the FBI returned to the Las Vegas hotels with subpoenas days after the Saudi flights departed to gather information on the royal guests, the records show. Read more about this in JW’s New York Times Best Seller “Corruption Chronicles.”
This week investigative journalist Paul Sperry reveals that two federal lawmakers— North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones and Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch—finally got a hold of the suspiciously redacted pages of Congress’s 9/11 report. Federal law prohibits them from disclosing the details, but both legislators said they were “absolutely shocked” at the level of foreign involvement in the 9/11 attacks. There’s little doubt they’re referring to the Saudi connection.
To make the information public, the lawmakers have proposed that Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama, who has promised to run the most transparent administration in history, to declassify the entire 2002 report. It certainly appears that the U.S. government is protecting the Saudis. In fact, federal agents told Sperry, a veteran reporter and columnist, that they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.
Besides the secret Saudi flights, Judicial Watch has ongoing investigations related to the sophisticated 9/11 plot. Earlier this year JW obtained documents from the FBI that show strong ties between Anwar al Aulaqi, the U.S.-born terrorist assassinated in 2011 by a U.S. drone in Yemen, and two of the 9/11 hijackers who attacked the Pentagon. In the documents the FBI describes al Aulaqi as “The Spiritual Leader of the Hijackers.”
Despite the best efforts of the search engines, the majority of the Internet is unsearchable with estimates of this “Unlit” Web as high as 90%. As ConvergEx’s Nick Colas notes, some of this content (no one knows how much) is dark for a reason – hosting every form of criminal behavior known to man – but the rest from the increasing interest in anonymous Internet use in light of widely publicized government surveillance.
Among the least well understood emerging themes in technology, Colas points out, is the “Dark Web”, adding that Oscar Wilde famously opined that “All human beings have three lives: public, private and secret.” The existing structure of the Internet handles the first two very well. The Dark Web is, apparently, for the third. The first innovation to move from “Dark” to “Lit” Web is bitcoin, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Via ConvergEx’s Nick Colas,
If you are a fan of the movie The Princess Bride, you might recall the character of Dread Pirate Roberts. His was as inherited position, with one man handing down the job to a worthy apprentice when he grew tired of the pirating game. This approach allowed a series of people to benefit from the efforts of many predecessors rather than having to build up their own “Brand” on the high seas.
I am sorry to report that the name Dread Pirate Roberts is now not just a memory from a delightful book and movie, but the nom du guerre of a man accused of running a real life drug website and attempting to arrange several contract killings. His real name is Ross Ulbricht, and these are the particulars of his case:
According to Federal prosecutors, the FBI arrested Ulbricht at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library on October 1st. They confiscated his laptop computer, where they noted he was logged into a website call Silk Road as an administrator. This was a popular site for the sale and distribution of illegal drugs and other contraband. The FBI had successfully tracked the operation of the site to Ulbricht, according to court documents related to the case.
In documents found on the seized computer, investigators found a journal, which they claim chronicles Ulbricht’s own development of the site back to its founding in 2010. This included the odd fact that he had grown several kilos of hallucinogenic mushrooms so the site would have something to sell when it went live but before other sellers began to offer their own illegal drugs.
As if running an online portal for illicit drugs wasn’t bad enough, Ulbricht also allegedly tried to arrange six murders-for-hire. The reported targets, all of who are still apparently alive, ranged from blackmailers to fraudulent sellers on the site. These presumably eroded Silk Road’s reputation and user trust.
As of this writing, Ulbricht is being held without bail. The Federal government confiscated 144,000 bitcoins as part of the investigation, worth $122 million as of today. Several press accounts of the case theorize that this stash was only part of Ulbricht’s total holdings and that, if true, would give him access to hundreds of millions of dollars in notional wealth with which to flee the country.
The bitcoin piece of this story got some press, given all the recent interest in the online “Currency”; what got lost in the wash was the presence of the “Dark Web” – a parallel, if much larger Internet, to the one we all use every day. A brief description here:
Google, Yahoo and Bing, among other search engines, only track part of the Internet – essentially the bits that website owners want the public to see. Business owners strive to optimize their sites to appear on pages 1 or 2 of a given search, knowing that most users will not travel farther. Time magazine recently ran a cover article on the “Deep Web”, essentially the Internet which search engines do not reach, and estimated that +90% of online content cannot be found by the typical search engines we all use every day. Wired magazine puts the number at 99%. Either way, most of the Internet is essentially “Dark”.
A large chunk of this “Missing” data must come from its formatting, unfriendly to Google/Yahoo/Bing search algorithms. Just consider all the economic data available through the Federal Reserve’s datasets. Typing “FRED inflation” into Google does get you to the St. Louis Fed’s excellent database of economic indicators, but from there you have to enter exactly what you want. Google, among others, is busy trying to integrate this information; there is a link after the text to a paper describing this effort. Another example of the Dark Web: your financial information at your bank or broker, held behind security firewalls but available to you with an ID and password.
Then there is the part of the Internet that doesn’t want to be found, and where the “Dark Web” means something else. Silk Road is one example, and even though that site is now shuttered there are other places on the Dark Web where users can purchase illegal drugs. From there, it gets a lot worse. There are sites advertising contract killings, illegal pornography, money laundering, and stolen financial information. Some press reports link global terrorism to the Dark Web.
Now, you won’t find the Dark Web on your Explorer, Safari or Firefox browser. To find these sites you’ll need something called Tor, short for “The Onion Router”, or other software which essentially makes you anonymous online. These browsers route your heavily encrypted traffic through a rabbit warren of servers around the world, making it nearly impossible to connect your computer to any individual site you might visit. Tor was actually developed by the U.S. Navy for secure communication, but the software is available for free here: https://www.torproject.org
Secure and anonymous access to the Internet is becoming a growth business, and Tor is one of the hottest tickets to that show. The Google search phrase “Tor search” has tripled in the last year, and the query “Tor” is up 100% over the same period. Like most fashion-forward tech trends, searches for Tor cluster on the coasts, in Oregon, Washington state, California and New York. Since search engine capability doesn’t reach the Dark Web – by design, of course – TorSearch is now available for users, with a reported 130,000 sites listed and something like a tripling of use in the last few weeks, according to media accounts.
There is an obvious tension between a growth opportunity for business and the need for society to regulate and control the illegal use of any technology. A few points here:
Aside from search engine companies, there is not much academic research dedicated to the Dark Web. We spent the better part of day trolling the usual scholarly sites, with little success.
Law enforcement seems poorly equipped to handle the challenge. There was one high profile takedown of a server hosting a range of illegal activities in Ireland over the summer (link below), but its success seems to have been caused by a flaw in the Firefox browser software used by Tor. The flaw has since been fixed. It wasn’t a technical gltich that brought down Silk Road – one of the supposed hitmen contracted for the murder-for-hire plot was an undercover agent.
We did find one consumer product offering related to Tor – something called pogoplug – which directs your web traffic into the anonymous network. It cost $49 and has wifi for your cell phone. The downside: Tor is slower than conventional access since your information transits through more connections than the customary point-to-point process.
All that said, we do have one innovation – bitcoin – that successfully made the transition from Dark to “Lit” web. Silk Road was clearly an early enabler of the online “Currency” but it now has the tacit recognition of everyone from the Federal Reserve to business television. Like the Dark Web, its early appeal was anonymity, but its low cost utility for money transfer should allow it to survive increasing regulatory scrutiny. It won’t be a flawless transition, considering its birth in the primordial ooze of the Dark Web, but it seems well on its way.
Can there be other innovations, developed in the shadows of the Dark Web, which hit the mainstream? It seems inevitable. Revelations of government spying around the world provide the notional demand for anonymous Internet use. Oscar Wilde famously opined that “All human beings have three lives: public, private and secret.” The existing structure of the Internet handles the first two very well. The Dark Web is, apparently, for the third.
After the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors.
But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’ investigative report on 9/11 dealing with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.
It was kept secret and remains so today.
President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words).
A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are “absolutely shocked” at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks.
Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can’t reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they’ve proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”
Some information already has leaked from the classified section, which is based on both CIA and FBI documents, and it points back to Saudi Arabia, a presumed ally.
The Saudis deny any role in 9/11, but the CIA in one memo reportedly found “incontrovertible evidence” that Saudi government officials — not just wealthy Saudi hardliners, but high-level diplomats and intelligence officers employed by the kingdom — helped the hijackers both financially and logistically. The intelligence files cited in the report directly implicate the Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks, making 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war.
The findings, if confirmed, would back up open-source reporting showing the hijackers had, at a minimum, ties to several Saudi officials and agents while they were preparing for their attacks inside the United States. In fact, they got help from Saudi VIPs from coast to coast:
LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)
SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)
WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers’ hands.
Other al Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy — so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client.
The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar.
“Our investigations contributed to the ambassador’s departure,” an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for “personal reasons.”
FALLS CHURCH, VA.: In 2001, Awlaki and the San Diego hijackers turned up together again — this time at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Pentagon-area mosque built with funds from the Saudi Embassy. Awlaki was recruited 3,000 miles away to head the mosque. As its imam, Awlaki helped the hijackers, who showed up at his doorstep as if on cue. He tasked a handler to help them acquire apartments and IDs before they attacked the Pentagon.
Awlaki worked closely with the Saudi Embassy. He lectured at a Saudi Islamic think tank in Merrifield, Va., chaired by Bandar. Saudi travel itinerary documents I’ve obtained show he also served as the official imam on Saudi Embassy-sponsored trips to Mecca and tours of Saudi holy sites.
Most suspiciously, though, Awlaki fled the United States on a Saudi jet about a year after 9/11.
As I first reported in my book, “Infiltration,” quoting from classified US documents, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was briefly detained at JFK before being released into the custody of a “Saudi representative.” A federal warrant for Awlaki’s arrest had mysteriously been withdrawn the previous day. A US drone killed Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.
HERNDON, VA.: On the eve of the attacks, top Saudi government official Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Marriott Residence Inn near Dulles Airport as three of the Saudi hijackers who targeted the Pentagon. Hussayen had left a nearby hotel to move into the hijackers’ hotel. Did he meet with them? The FBI never found out. They let him go after he “feigned a seizure,” one agent recalled. (Hussayen’s name doesn’t appear in the separate 9/11 Commission Report, which clears the Saudis.)
SARASOTA, FLA.: 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and other hijackers visited a home owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd. FBI agents investigating the connection in 2002 found that visitor logs for the gated community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers. Just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi luxury home was abandoned. Three cars, including a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, were left in the driveway. Inside, opulent furniture was untouched.
Democrat Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who chaired the Joint Inquiry, has asked the FBI for the Sarasota case files, but can’t get a single, even heavily redacted, page released. He says it’s a “coverup.”
Is the federal government protecting the Saudis? Case agents tell me they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.
Just days after Bush met with the Saudi ambassador in the White House, the FBI evacuated from the United States dozens of Saudi officials, as well as Osama bin Laden family members. Bandar made the request for escorts directly to FBI headquarters on Sept. 13, 2001 — just hours after he met with the president. The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony while discussing the attacks.
Bill Doyle, who lost his son in the World Trade Center attacks and heads the Coalition of 9/11 Families, calls the suppression of Saudi evidence a “coverup beyond belief.” Last week, he sent out an e-mail to relatives urging them to phone their representatives in Congress to support the resolution and read for themselves the censored 28 pages.
Astonishing as that sounds, few lawmakers in fact have bothered to read the classified section of arguably the most important investigation in US history.
Granted, it’s not easy to do. It took a monthlong letter-writing campaign by Jones and Lynch to convince the House intelligence panel to give them access to the material.
But it’s critical they take the time to read it and pressure the White House to let all Americans read it. This isn’t water under the bridge. The information is still relevant today. Pursuing leads further, getting to the bottom of the foreign support, could help head off another 9/11.
As the frustrated Joint Inquiry authors warned, in an overlooked addendum to their heavily redacted 2002 report, “State-sponsored terrorism substantially increases the likelihood of successful and more lethal attacks within the United States.”
Their findings must be released, even if they forever change US-Saudi relations. If an oil-rich foreign power was capable of orchestrating simultaneous bulls-eye hits on our centers of commerce and defense a dozen years ago, it may be able to pull off similarly devastating attacks today.
Members of Congress reluctant to read the full report ought to remember that the 9/11 assault missed its fourth target: them.
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration” and “Muslim Mafia.”
Judge orders release of hundreds of heavily-redacted documents
The FBI has been contemplating using aerial surveillance drones since 1995, and are investing heavily in the technology as a cheap and stealthy alternative to manned surveillance aircraft. A new set of documents released by the Bureau—400 heavily-redacted pages of emails, memos and invoices—sheds new light on the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles for federal investigations.
The Bureau has also sought new authority from the FAA, the agency which regulates unmanned aerial flights over the U.S., to “greatly expand the FBI’s potential deployment scenarios for UAVs.”
On October 30, the U.S. District Court in D.C. ordered the FBI to release its drone documents on a rolling basis to Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), which had submitted a Freedom of Information Act request in June. While MuckRock and Motherboard’s own requests to the FBI as part of the Drone Census are still in process (and the Bureau is hardly eager to release anything), the 431 pages of documents offer a more authoritative and exhaustive view of the Bureau’s investigations into and deployments of drone technology than ever before.
Presentation slides from the FBI’s Operational Technology Division indicates that the agency’s interest in drones dates back to 1995, when researchers “experimented with model helicopters and model planes but discarded the program as it did not prove to be a useful surveillance tool.”
The FBI’s Technical Response Team researched UAVs more aggressively beginning in 2003, but a white paper explains that, before 2005, “UAVs available were either too large or too expensive to meet FBI requirements.”
Invoices confirm that the FBI made its first drone purchase in September 2005. The Justice Department Inspector General reported in September that the FBI had spent $3 million on drone technology, maintenance and software through May 2013, but all quantities, model numbers and dollar amounts are redacted in the released purchase documents.
March 2013 emails indicate that the FBI has seen an “increase in funding” due to a “need for more UAVs.”
Like all government agencies, the FBI must apply for authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration prior to deploying drones. While the FAA so far has released authorization documents back to 2009, an email from the chief of the Tracking Technology Unit claims that the Bureau’s “first operational deployment was in October 2006.”
In a July letter to Rand Paul, the FBI indicated that it had used drones in ten operations since 2006, and that all applications had been approved by the FAA. The FAA has begun releasing its authorization documents on a rolling basis after losing its own lawsuits to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
As of a May 2011 newsletter, the FBI’s UAV Program was “mission ready and fully operational.” In an email that July, the program manager all but begged agents across the country to request drone backup.
“The time is now here and we are offering these services,” the agent wrote to all field office administrators. “We have available several small Unmanned Aerial Systems available for deployment.”
What’s remains murky is precisely what kind of drones they have, the funding source for their drone purchases, and in what ways the FBI’s program has interacted with other federal and local law enforcement agencies.
While it’s well-established that Customs and Border Protection, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, flies unarmed Predator drones along the border, the FBI refuses to detail its the circumstances of their own drone use or the number of agents trained to operate them.
Officials at the FBI have previously indicated the Bureau has relied on drones in cases where agents’ lives are at stake. In February 2011, the LA Times reported that the FBI used a Department of Homeland Security Predator drone based in Grand Forks, N.D., to collect aerial images of the house of Martin Luther King Jr. Day bomber Kevin W. Harpham, which it used to plan the raid that captured him on March 9, 2011. The Bureau also used a drone during an Alabama hostage incident earlier this year.
In a 35-page report released in September by the Justice Department’s inspector general, auditors revealed that the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration have also purchased and tested drones but decided not to deploy them actively. The Justice Department has also awarded at least $1.2 million to local police departments to purchase small drones, said the report. While these drones have not been used in police actions, the auditors found that the Justice Dept. had failed to track exactly how that drone procurement money was spent.
Above, former FBI director Robert Mueller testifying in a Congressional oversight hearing in July
Auditors also found that the FBI had not addressed the danger of violating privacy rights in its use of drones, which have set off alarms among privacy advocates across the country, and led various municipalities to restrict their use. The report said that officials at the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told auditors that there was “no need” to write new privacy guidelines. During an oversight hearing over the summer, the Bureau’s former director Robert Mueller said the FBI was in the “initial stages” of writing privacy policies.
According to the documents, the primary roadblock holding back the FBI’s drone program appears to be FAA approval, but the Bureau is working to eliminate obstacles to wider deployment. While current FAA rules authorize drone flights over particular geographic areas, the FBI has launched a coordinated effort with other law enforcement agencies to set up a blanket approval in domestic airspace, described as a “nationwide, standing Certificate of Authorization for federal law enforcement use, which will greatly expand the FBI’s potential deployment scenarios for UAVs.”
In October, the FBI reported to the court that it had found approximately 2,750 pages of documents on its drone fleet. CREW has indicated that it intends to appeal the FBI’s heavy-handed redaction of all released documents.
Motherboard and MuckRock are continuing to sift through this first release for more specifics on the FBI’s use of drones, including its policies around using unmanned aerial surveillance for tactical missions.
The FBI sent its first batch on November 27, which CREW has put online in full.
Before this release, the only timelines of FBI drone use have been cobbled together from anonymous official statements, Director Robert Mueller’s vague testimony, responses toSenator Rand Paul and reports from Justice Department Inspector General and various federal research offices.
See more from the Motherboard / MuckRock Drone Census
Currency Markets Are Rigged
Currency markets are massively rigged.
Bloomberg reports today:
The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation of possible manipulation of the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market, a person familiar with the matter said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is also looking into alleged rigging of interest rates associated with the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, is in the early stages of its currency market probe, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the inquiry is confidential.
Swiss regulators last week said they were “coordinating closely with authorities in other countries as multiple banks around the world are potentially implicated.”
The U.S. investigation comes as the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority said in June it was reviewing potential manipulation of exchange rates….
- U.S. Said to Open Criminal Probe of Currency Market Rigging (bloomberg.com)
- Three Banks Are Reportedly Cooperating With A New Justice Department Criminal Probe Into Currency Market Manipulation (businessinsider.com)
- US And European Regulators Probing FX Market Rigging (zerohedge.com)
- UPDATE 1-U.S. looking at alleged forex manipulation -source (xe.com)
- New rules urged over FBI drone use (bbc.co.uk)
- Domestic drones aren’t new: the FBI has used them since 2006 (techi.com)
- Justice Department spent nearly $5M on drones (cbsnews.com)
- Jacob Chamberlain – ACLU Slams DOJ Over Unchecked Drone Program (prn.fm)
- Be Prepared To Hunker Down For Months:THE FED GOV has been stockpiling food, water treatment supplies, firearms, ammunition, and training personnel to deal with the aftermath of TOTAL GRID FAILURE! (intelwars2.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Electrical Grid on the Edge of Failure (scientificamerican.com)
- IMAGINING A CYBERATTACK ON THE POWER GRID. “More than 200 utilities and government agencies across … (pjmedia.com)