Kristen Breitweiser is een lid van de Jersey Girls, een groep weduwen wiens echtgenoten zijn omgekomen tijdens de aanslagen van 9/11. Het boek is haar verhaal over haar gevecht om te komen tot een echt onderzoek naar deze aanslagen. Het boek is op meerdere vlakken zeer onthullend.
- Over het Victims' Compensation Fund en het werkelijke doel ervan:
The 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund (VCF) was created by Congress in the days immediately after 9/11. In
essence, the airline lobbyists worrying about their profits descended upon Washington, D.C., and requested a bailout bill to keep them out of bankruptcy. Of course it was sold to the American public as a dire and necessary step to keep the American economy afloat after the devastating attacks. Recall that we were told that the airlines were a cornerstone of the United States economy and if the airlines went bankrupt, so too would our entire economy. It was all nonsense in my mind, since the airlines were always going bankrupt—I had learned something from my husband the investment manager.
Nevertheless, the airlines were quite successful in their lobbying effort and were handed $15 billion from Congress. I guess it didn’t hurt that one of the airline lobbyists was Linda Daschle, whose husband was a very influential person: the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle. The money was supposed to be paid to the airlines only after they met certain requirements; in other words, there were certain strings attached to the funds. Strings such as locking cockpit doors on all flights. Even four years later, the airlines still haven’t met all their requirements, but they have collected all of their monies. How’s that for congressional oversight?
Not providing fair compensation to the families meant that they were not compensated at a level that would have allowed them to maintain their pre-9/11 standard of living, a standard of living that would have been met had the 9/11 families been able to sue negligent or criminal entities in court. For example, instead of recovering 100 percent of their economic loss (a figure calculated with the use of a set formula), families of high-net-worth victims were given only a small fraction of that number—in some cases around ten cents to the dollar—as compared to what they would have recovered in a court of law if they were able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Before my husband died, he wasn’t allowed to pay only one-tenth of his income tax burden each year, so why was it okay for the government to compensate people like him for only one-tenth of the value of their economic worth when they were wrongfully murdered? It would be one thing if the VCF were a charity or welfare program. But it was not. And it would be another thing if the government actually had one thing to show for itself in even attempting to prevent or defend itself against the attacks that took place on 9/11. (Anyone who thinks that the VCF was born out of Congress’s goodwill should consider the level of our government’s contributory negligence and residual guilt toward 9/11.)
- Hoe de Bush-regering een onafhankelijk onderzoek probeerde te dwarsbomen een onderzoek dat nodig werd geacht omdat talloze vragen onbeantwoord bleven:
We all understood that the odds were not in our favor. The White House was determined to block every attempt we made for an independent commission. True, as 9/11 family members our goal of a 9/11 commission was undeniable. But time was not on our side. We knew we could not sustain the public interest for a 9/11 commission and the media’s focus on national security indefinitely. In watching our loved ones die on television over and over again, we knew what our pain was: It was understandable, explainable, and definable. And we knew why we felt our pain: Our husbands had been brutally murdered. But the facts that lay behind our husbands’ murders were different. The facts were not so understandable, definable, or explainable. We didn’t know why our nation had been so vulnerable on the morning of the attacks. Why jets were not scrambled on time to intercept the four hijacked airliners. Why evacuation protocols in the Twin Towers were not followed. Why the hijackers were able to carry illegal weapons like box cutters and Mace onto the planes. Why al Qaeda terrorists planning an attack and under our intelligence community’s surveillance were not stopped.
Indeed, the many failures that occurred on 9/11 gnawed at us because they were neither explainable nor understandable. Too many failures had occurred for no good reason. And, more pointedly, nobody seemed to be doing anything to address those failures—that was the fact that scared us the most. How was it possible that no one wanted to investigate and fix the problems? Why weren’t people worried about our country’s still being so vulnerable to further terrorist attacks? Didn’t people realize what it felt like to lose a loved one in a brutal terrorist attack that didn’t have to happen? Didn’t they want to fix the problems so that fewer lives would be lost in the next attack?
The failure to connect the dots—that was the intelligence community’s lame excuse for not preventing the 9/11 attacks. Evidence showed that all the information needed to thwart the attacks was in their possession, but no one had bothered to connect those pieces of information—or dots—together in time to stop the attacks from happening. And those dots were damning. I knew that I could string together the facts of how 9/11 happened into a persuasive argument that we should have expected and received better results from our country in defending itself against those nineteen hijackers on the morning of 9/11. But I also knew that the failures were so many in form and so complex in nature that it was overwhelming to grasp. It needed to be woven into a story.
Certain failures riled me with their sheer incomprehensibility—for example, the fact that NORAD, our national air defense squadron, was unable to get F-16s off the ground in time to intercept any of the hijacked planes. I knew that the 9/11 attacks took almost two full hours to carry out; what I didn’t know was why we stood utterly defenseless in the air for those two whole hours. How was it possible for one of the hijacked planes to fly loopdeloops over Washington, D.C., airspace? I also didn’t comprehend why people like my husband were told by the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, who managed the Twin Towers, to remain at their desks and not evacuate the building immediately after the first plane sliced into Tower One. To me, having a building in such close proximity and a fire so high up in Tower One would seem to warrant the evacuation of all surrounding areas, including the tower standing immediately next to the one in flames. I also couldn’t comprehend how the hijackers managed to board the four hijacked planes with Mace, pepper spray, masks, and box cutters. But what disturbed me the most was the information surrounding two of the hijackers, who actually lived with an FBI informant in San Diego. I knew after only meager research that the nineteen hijackers were not a rogue group of unknown actors who lived and plotted beneath the radar of our intelligence agencies. Some of them were known al Qaeda operatives under active surveillance. Yet our government was telling us that these hijackers had lived, trained, and plotted in this country for nearly two years before 9/11 and went wholly undetected by our intelligence agencies. I couldn’t understand why our intelligence agencies and our government were leading us to believe such a clearly bogus story. I wanted the rest of the world to know what I knew and to ask similar questions. But I was scared—little-kid kind of scared.
“Our intelligence agencies suffered an utter collapse in their duties and responsibilities leading up to and on September eleventh. But their negligence does not stand alone. Agencies like the Port Authority, the City of New York, the FAA, the INS, the Secret Service, NORAD, the air force, and the airlines all failed our nation that morning. Perhaps said more cogently, one singular agency’s failures does not eclipse another’s.
- Breitweiser's getuigenis voor de Joint Congressionl Inquiry:
I first took aim at Condoleezza Rice, who was at that time the national security adviser—responsible for coordinating, planning, and evaluating the defense policy of the United States and for overseeing the CIA—by reminding my audience what Rice had said on May 17, 2002: “‘I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.’” But I challenged that by saying, “The historical facts illustrate differently.” I then listed seven specific instances when the government was aware of plots and attempts to utilize airplanes as weapons. One of the most dramatic was the 1995 plot disrupted by Philippine authorities. It was called Project Bojinka. Islamic terrorists plotted to blow up eleven commercial airliners over the Pacific; and in an alternative plan, U.S. planes were to be hijacked. Quoting from the report, I said, “Among the targets mentioned were CIA headquarters, the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower, and the White House.”
To underscore and further support my case, I pointed out that in 1997, this plot resurfaced again during the trial of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1993 bombings of the World Trade Center. During his trial, FBI agents testified that “the plan targeted not only the CIA, but other U.S. government buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon.” I continued, “Two years later, in 1999, a report prepared for U.S. intelligence said suicide bombers linked to al Qaeda ‘could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House.’” In a similar way, with an inventory of facts, I took apart statements by the director of the CIA, George Tenet, and the FBI director, Robert Mueller.
Tenet had said on March 11, 2002, “We knew in broad terms last summer that terrorists might be planning major operations in the United States. But we never had the texture, meaning enough information, to stop what happened.” Two months later, on May 8, 2002, the director of the FBI had said, “There was nothing the agency could have done to anticipate and prevent the attacks.” In my testimony I then rebutted Tenet and Mueller’s claims with specific warnings issued by the FAA and Rice’s own statement on June 28, 2001, that “it is highly likely that a significant al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks.” I then segued into the failure to investigate and share information, beginning with a statement on July 5, 2001, from Richard Clarke, at that time the government’s top counterterrorism official, who said, “Something really spectacular is going to happen here and it’s going to happen soon.” Clarke directed every counterterrorist office to “cancel vacations, defer nonvital travel, put off scheduled exercises, and place domestic rapid response teams on much shorter alert.” For six weeks that summer, the nation was at its “highest possible state of readiness and anxiety against imminent terrorist attack.”
People seemed spellbound in the hearing room. By this point in my testimony, members of the Joint Intelligence Committee—the congressmen whose job it is to conduct and carry out effective oversight for the intelligence community—were visibly squirming in their seats, paging anxiously through their copies of my submitted testimony, and growing more nervous by the minute. This information was all in the public domain. I certainly didn’t have the benefit of any security clearance or subpoena power. But I had meticulously and diligently organized it into a narrative, a comprehensible story, paving the way for two of the more damning incidents known at the time. Little did I know at the time, some people were alarmed with how Eleanor Hill’s staff statement and my testimony so closely dovetailed. Some were even raising the possibility of collusion. The first was the Phoenix memo, written on July 10, 2001, by a prescient FBI agent who urged the FBI to investigate whether al Qaeda operatives were training at U.S. flight schools. Agent Kenneth Williams suggested that followers of bin Laden might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots. Williams’s memo was written two months before 9/11, but it was mostly ignored, in some cases not even read, and clearly not shown to other intelligence agencies. I asked why in my testimony. Equally disturbing was the information reported to the FBI on August 15, 2001. A civilian flight instructor at a Minnesota flight school called the local FBI with this question: “Do you realize that a 747 loaded with fuel can be a bomb?” The next day, Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested. Investigators learned he wanted to fly big jets, even though he didn’t have a license to fly a Cessna. He was also interested in flight patterns around New York City. By early September 2001, an FBI agent had written a memo analyzing the Moussaoui case, theorizing that he could fly a plane into the World Trade Center. There was also information that could have exposed key elements of the plot that would unfold in less than a month and turn out to be the attacks that occurred on 9/11. But none of it was discovered in time.
Why? Because the local FBI office in Minnesota was rebuffed when it tried to get a FISA (Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Act) warrant to investigate Moussaoui more thoroughly. Had that happened, pivotal elements in the9/11 plot would have been revealed prior to the attacks, and in all likelihood the attacks would have been prevented.
- De onwaarschijnlijkheid dat de inlichtingendiensten de handel met voorkennis zou gemist hebben (en de link met de Promis-software zie Verdachte overlijdens: Danny Casolaro):
I then explained to the rapt spectators in the hearing room the upsurge in trading on the Chicago ExchangeBoard and overseas markets. Our intelligence agencies routinely monitor sudden shifts in trading patterns with Promis software, which gives intelligence agencies the valuable ability to track and analyze market indicatorsthat might hint at possible worldwide events and planned terrorist acts. I’d learned that in the run-up to 9/11, massive amounts of trading occurred on American Airlines and United Airlines and reinsurance companies and leaseholders in the World Trade Center. Promis software had the ability to pick up on these market aberrations. I highlighted the fact that the whole reason intelligence agencies were permitted to use such software was to get a jump on possible terrorist activities and patterns so they could prevent them from happening. And I said, “And yet concrete indicators of an impending attack and the targets of those attacks were in evidence at the FBI and CIA and nobody noticed?” But most upsetting to me, perhaps, were the two 9/11 hijackers the CIA was trying to find in late August 2001. The two men, Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi, had been linked to the bombing of the USS Cole. The CIA asked Immigration to put them on a watchlist in case they tried to enter the country. When it was informed that both men were already here, the agency asked the FBI to find them. The FBI’s attempt was unsuccessful despite the fact that one of them was listed in the San Diego phone book, the other had opened a bank account, and finally, they had, at one point, a roommate who’d been an FBI informant.
- Ondanks het falen in aanloop tot 9/11 van zowat elke instantie, liep alles vanaf 12 september opnieuw van een leien dakje:
On the morning of September 12, 2001, the New York Times reported that FBI agents descended on flightschools, neighborhoods, and restaurants in pursuit of leads. Within hours of the attacks, FBI agents were at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University seeking information. According to the Times, federal agents were dispatched to a store in Bangor, Maine, again hours after the attacks, to run down details of a phone conversation that had occurred a week prior to the attacks. Five Arab men had tried to rent cell phones in a store in Bangor. They were refused for lack of identification, but when $3,000 was put on the table, the phones were theirs. How had the FBI gotten this information so fast? How were they able to know the content of a telephone call that had transpired three weeks before 9/11, a time when, according to officials, the hijackers were operating under the radar? Had somebody recorded the conversation? If so, why? I asked, “Had any of the hijackers been under active and ongoing surveillance?” There were allegations that the hijackers ran practice runs on the airline routes that were chosen for the September 11 attacks. I asked, “Had any intelligence agents been shadowing the hijackers on practice runs?” I wondered whether any of our intelligence agents were killed on the planes. Where were the complete flight lists? The New York Times also reported in that same article on September 12 that the authorities had already identified accomplices in several cities who had been involved in planning the attacks the day before. Authorities had also prepared biographies of each of the identified members of the hijacking teams and had been tracing their recent movements. How was all of this information produced and gathered together on such short notice? How was an FBI that was apparently so totally inept on September 10, 2001, so completely on the mark on September 12, 2001? The only logical explanation was that the hijackers were under surveillance by our intelligence community before 9/11. And if so, by whom? More important, if the hijackers had been under active intelligence community surveillance, why weren’t they stopped?
- De strijd voor een Commissie:
That next week, the Senate voted 90-8 in favor of the independent commission. The president was able to say that he’d never opposed it, but that he hadn’t felt the timing had been quite right. It was a complete 180-degree turnaround in a week’s time. We were ecstatic. The president had clearly seen the political realities and knew it would be political suicide to continue his opposition of the commission. Dick Cheney, who had been the principal attack dog on the independent commission issue, was effectively called off. He had led the opposition to the commission with an extreme and vitriolic assault. People referred to it as a victory, which I suppose it technically was. But we never thought of this as a game.
I couldn’t help but wonder what Ron would be thinking. He had venerated Dick Cheney the way he’d worshipped Warren Buffett. But Cheney had been a big fat stumbling block from day one when it came to garnering support for the commission. He would call up congressional officials and threaten them, stating flatly that there would be no 9/11 independent commission. Publicly, in his grumbling tone and with his glaring eyes that always shifted down and never made contact with anyone else’s, he would ordain that the White House was opposed to any independent-style 9/11 commission because we were a nation at war and could not spare any resources. He was the puppeteer pulling the strings in the background while he placed his phone calls threatening the loss of party support for a re-election campaign, a chairmanship of a prized committee, or administration support for a pet project.
The elected official would appear sympathetic and moved—and then merely apologize and state simply that he or she could not support a 9/11 independent commission. Representative Pete King, now chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani were two of these people. Both King and Giuliani told us in meetings that they were opposed to any 9/11 independent commission. They thought that the government should investigate itself. They told us to trust the government and to stay out of areas that were better left to people who knew what they were doing. We told them flatly that we no longer trusted our government. We told them that an investigation was needed to make us safer. They told us it was none of our business, let the government handle its own investigation. We walked away thinking that both of these gentlemen must have had something to hide. While we were never given the opportunity to meet with Vice President Cheney, we certainly had a lot of questions for him because he was the man who was calling the shots on the morning of 9/11. While President Bush sat in a classroom in Sarasota, Florida, and then hopscotched across the country on Air Force One, Cheney was in the war room making all the decisions. We wanted to know what he knew about our nation’s defense failures on 9/11. We also wanted to know what he knew about New York City’s abysmal emergency response and communications that day.
More important, on May 8, 2001, President Bush appointed Vice President Cheney to head the new Office of National Preparedness. In taking on this position, Cheney was responsible for overseeing a “national effort” to coordinate all federal programs for responding to domestic terrorist attacks. To wit, Cheney, in holding such a position, would necessarily be apprised of any and all national security efforts to thwart terrorist attacks. We wanted to know what Cheney did in this capacity. To us it didn’t seem like he had accomplished much, given the vast devastation that occurred on 9/11. We wanted his answers as to why he failed to do his job.
When the press conference was held, one of the principals, Porter Goss, the Republican congressman from Florida, was missing. We weren’t initially worried because we knew he was onboard. He had given us his word. But then Goss burst into the room with bad news. The deal was not satisfactory to the White House. Cheney, at the eleventh hour, moments before the announcement was to be made, had phoned Goss and encouraged him to drag his feet. The White House wanted Goss to keep negotiating, to hold firm to what was the initial White House position: control over subpoena power and the right to name the chairman. Goss, clearly having no angst about being the lackey for Cheney, exited the room with no apologies. The next morning Goss acknowledged in the New York Times, “It was very clear there was still angst at the White House.”
- Bush-regering probeert eerst nog om Henry Kissinger al voorzitter te benoemen:
Immediately after Kissinger was appointed chairman, we set up a meeting with him in his New York office. During the meeting we were very frank. We wanted to know whether he had any clients who had either benefited from or been involved in the 9/11 attacks. We sat in his overheated office, which felt like a balmy ninety-five degrees in the middle of a frigidly cold winter day. Sweating profusely in our turtlenecks and jackets, we noticed the many photos of Kissinger with his prestigious friends displayed throughout his office. Lorie quickly scanned them all, searching for any sign of him with diplomats and clients from the Middle East. When she was finished, she scurried over to us and whispered, “The photos are clean. No shots of him and bin Laden.” Chuckling, she settled into her chair.
Kissinger never answered the question. He didn’t have to. The next day it was reported in the press that Kissinger had resigned. Oh, well. So much for his higher calling and honor-bound duty to his country. In the end, protecting one’s clients came before serving his country and protecting its citizens. A few days later, the New York Post wrote an editorial claiming that the 9/11 families wielded too much power and blamed us for Kissinger’s hasty and premature departure. The editorial in the conservative Post praised Kissinger as a true American and said that the 9/11 families were wrong in kicking him off the commission. “Equally disturbing is the notion that the victims’ families are calling the shots for this commission. It was their complaints that prompted Kissinger’s resignation.”
After the meeting, we had all agreed not to speak with the press about anything discussed in the meeting; it was off the record. And now it was being reported that we had forced Kissinger to resign. We never asked Kissinger to resign. We only asked him a question about the bin Ladens being clients. In fact, we were just as surprised as everyone else when we learned about his resignation. We felt we knew why he resigned, but we had not expected it to happen.
- De leden van de Commissie hadden bijna allemaal een "conflict of interest":
The commission had ten members: five Democrats and five Republicans. Our research had led us to conclude that each of them was likely placed on the commission to protect specific, particular things. For example, Jim Thompson’s law firm represented the airlines, as did Slade Gorton’s. Jamie Gorelick sat on the board of Schlumberger, a large defense contracting company, and had also served as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration and on a CIA advisory panel. Lee Hamilton had been a congressman who served on the intelligence committee. John Lehman was a former secretary of the navy and a wealthy businessman who owned several companies that provided military components to defense contractors and/or the government. The lists of potential conflicts for the commissioners went on and on. Throughout the commission’s investigation we remained vigilant and always cognizant of where each commissioner’s conflicts could complicate and hinder the search for truth.
- De nefaste rol van Philip Zelikow:
The biggest conflict of interest that compromised the breadth and integrity of the commission was to be found not among the commissioners themselves, but in the executive staff director, Philip Zelikow. I was skeptical about Zelikow from day one. I didn’t like him. Our research revealed that he was a close colleague of Condoleezza Rice and that at the specific request of Rice, he had served on the Bush administration’s transition team. This meant that as the Clinton administration was leaving office and the Bush administration was coming into office, it was Zelikow’s job to facilitate that transition. Because Zelikow’s specialty was terrorism, he was briefed about al Qaeda and bin Laden by outgoing national security adviser Sandy Berger, counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, and CIA director George Tenet. These briefings took place throughout late 2000 and early 2001. Zelikow’s job was then to take that information and convey it to the Bush national security team. Talk about a conflict! How could Zelikow direct an investigation whose mandate was at least in part to investigate the role Zelikow himself played in the transition time between the Clinton and Bush administrations—a transition that went to the heart of why the Bush administration underestimated the threat posed by al Qaeda and bin Laden?
While the commissioners were the public face of the commission, the real work was carried out behind the scenes by the staff—and there were about eighty staff members who were divided up into each of the key areas. Zelikow was in charge of those eighty staffers and the entire course of the commission’s investigation. He would be the commission’s gatekeeper; all information that ended up in the final report was there only because Zelikow thought it should be there. In essence, the story told by the 9/11 commission became the story that Zelikow wanted to tell. And that made me exceedingly uncomfortable right from the beginning.
We also learned that Zelikow was one of only two people from the commission to be given what was called primary access to all executive branch documents from the Bush administration. Primary access meant that Zelikow was responsible for receiving all Bush documents that related to al Qaeda and 9/11. He decided which documents were worthy of the full commission’s review. Zelikow, the gatekeeper, then provided this limited and censored group of documents to the commissioners, but only in a secure and classified location. Commissioners could take handwritten notes about these documents, but those notes could not be removed from the classified location nor used in writing the commission’s final report. The other person given primary access to the executive branch documents was Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, who, ironically, was also interviewed by the commission as a witness regarding her former position as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. We were furious with the patent conflict of interest exhibited by Zelikow and Gorelick, so we wrote a press release. The commission’s lawyer, Dan Marcus, and Zelikow met with us to discuss our concerns.
- De Commissie kreeg veel te weinig geld van de Bush-regering (in de woorden van de voorzitters "we were set-up to fail":
Then came the more rational argument: the space shuttle explosion and its follow-up investigation. I quietly pointed out to the White House that after the shuttle explosion, NASA got $50 million from Congress virtually overnight. My point was this: If we can spend $50 million on the space shuttle, how about $15 million on the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 people? That seemed reasonable to me. This argument was a strong argument. The White House knew that. Within a week and along with much media pressure, the White House conceded on the issue. The 9/11 Commission was given a budget increase, and the final budget was set at $14 million. (It actually did work out to $1 million for each mention of 9/11 in the State of the Union Address, but I don’t think it had anything to do with that!)
- De Commissie aan het werk:
The first public hearing of the commission was held in New York City on March 31, 2003. Mindy was one of the first witnesses. Speaking poignantly of her husband, Alan, she was determined to set the record straight with regard to our nation’s poor air defense on the morning of 9/11: At 6:15 A.M. on the morning of 9/11, my husband Alan left for work; he drove into New York City, and was at his desk and working at his NASDAQ Security Trading position with Cantor Fitzgerald, in Tower One of the WTC by 7:30 A.M. In contrast, on the morning of September 11, President Bush was scheduled to listen to elementary school children read. Before the President walked into the classroom NORAD had sufficient information that the plane that hit the WTC was hijacked. At that time, they also had knowledge that two other commercial airliners, in the air, were also hijacked. It would seem that a national emergency was in progress. Yet President Bush was allowed to enter a classroom full of young children and listen to the students read. Why didn’t the Secret Service inform him of this national emergency? When is a president supposed to be notified of everything the agencies know? Why was the president permitted by the Secret Service to remain in the Sarasota elementary school? Was this Secret Service protocol? In the case of a national emergency, seconds of indecision could cost thousands of lives. . . .
- Hoe ze worden afgescheept door Robert Mueller hoofd van de FBI:
First question: “So, as our lead investigators, have you solved the crime yet?” The director looked stunned. He asked, “What crime?” We then explained that we wanted to know what he knew about the hijackers and the 9/11 attacks. We also wanted to know if they had any leads on the anthrax attacks. And, while we were at it, we wanted an update on the Moussaoui trial. The director was not pleased. His expressions spoke volumes. He looked as if he wanted to say “How dare you ask me such questions? Don’t you know that I am the director of the FBI? That I have the power to ruin your lives?” That’s why so many elected officials never make waves for people like Mueller who run the intelligence community. Congress fears the intelligence agencies because they think agencies like the FBI have the dirt on them. Congressional officials never cause problems for them because they worry that somewhere, hidden away, the agencies have an archive full of congressional skeletons, dirt, and proof of scandal. The problem for Mueller was that we weren’t elected officials and we had no skeletons to worry about. Nobody could make our lives any worse than they already were. We knew exactly who Mueller was, and that’s why we had such difficulty in garnering respect for him. He had a lot of explaining to do for his agency and its failures leading up to and after 9/11. He was in part responsible for our husbands’ deaths. And we wanted him held accountable.
Nearly every question we asked was answered with one of the following: We cannot answer that because it would harm the Moussaoui prosecution. We cannot answer that because it is part of our ongoing investigation. We cannot answer that because it involves sources and methods and national security. It was a joke. Need to know about the timeline of when NORAD scrambled its jets? Sorry, no can do. It might jeopardize the Moussaoui trial. Need to know about the informant who was living in San Diego? Sorry, can’t answer. National security. Need to know why the buildings weren’t evacuated on time? Sorry, that would harm the Moussaoui trial. Every single question was dismissed with one of those excuses. The one used most often was the Moussaoui trial. It incensed us.
- "set up to fail", misschien, maar de Commissie had niet veel aanmoediging nodig:
Witnesses would contradict their prior testimony and the commission would fail to ask them why. One good example of this was the testimony of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) director Jane Garvey. When she first appeared before the commission, she laid out a timeline that described when the FAA knew the airplanes on 9/11 were confirmed hijacked. This timeline is important because the FAA has clear protocols and procedures in place for hijackings. None of these protocols were followed on 9/11. None of the failures were explained. We knew Garvey wasn’t being very forthcoming. The commissioners gave her the benefit of the doubt. When she was invited back a second time, she just resubmitted a new timeline. Of course, by that time the commission had served a subpoena and found out on its own that Garvey’s prior testimony was in error. Yet the commission never pressed for a specific answer as to why Garvey had lied. Just like it never got to the bottom of why it took Garvey’s agency, the FAA, so long to notify NORAD on the morning of 9/11.
- De nefaste rol van Zelikow (vervolg):
Zelikow had designed it that way because the course of the investigation was easier to contain. At least that is how it appeared to me. Ironically, the official excuse for 9/11 was that “nobody connected the dots,” and yet Zelikow set up the commission’s own investigation into 9/11 in such a way that no single investigator could feasibly “connect the dots” of failure that occurred on 9/11. Zelikow did the same thing when he wrote the 9/11 independent commission’s final report. The book is choppy and disconnected. It is confusing, as the story line jumps back and forth through facts and history, making it very hard to keep track of the mounting failures that keep adding up.
- De nefaste rol van Condoleezza Rice:
At the time when Clarke testified, Condoleezza Rice was still refusing to do so. In her place, the White House sent Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. When Armitage showed up in the hearing room, the 9/11 families rose from their front-row seats and left the room. It was our silent protest. When we reached the media outside, we clearly expressed our disappointment at Rice’s failure to testify. We asked what she had to hide. The White House countered those comments, saying that “it is a longstanding principle that sitting national security advisers do not testify before Congress.” The names Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel Berger made a mockery of that.
Rice had several primary objectives to achieve in her testimony. One was to take apart Richard Clarke and rebut his scathing testimony. The other was to preserve at all costs the ultimate line: “Had we thought that there was an attack coming in Washington or New York, we would have moved heaven and earth to try and stop it.” A problem for Rice was the PDB—the president’s daily brief—that had been prepared for the president by the CIA a month before 9/11 and given to him while he was vacationing in Crawford, Texas, on August 6, 2001. We had known since 2002 that the memo existed, but the full details did not come out until the Rice testimony. She told us, “I believe the title was ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.’”
- De famueze voetnoot 44 van het rapport (criminele nalatigheid van CIA, FBI en NSA):
Footnote 44 gave me the ammunition I’d been seeking. I told reporters that it proved that the CIA deliberately withheld information from the FBI about two of the terrorists who would go on to become 9/11 hijackers. For me, Footnote 44, buried in the voluminous footnotes, all written in the tiniest of print, was the damning proof of why we needed to hold people accountable.
What the footnote proves is that the CIA’s failure to share information with the FBI was not a mistake or an oversight. It was done on purpose. And the CIA even tried to cover up their malfeasance. If you want to know why and how 9/11 could have been prevented, your answers are rooted in Footnote 44, which is quoted below: 44. CIA cable, “Activities of Bin Laden Associate Khalid Revealed,” Jan. 4, 2000. His Saudi passport—which contained a visa for travel to the United States—was photocopied and forwarded to CIA headquarters. This information was not shared with FBI headquarters until August 2001. An FBI agent detailed to the Bin Laden unit at CIA attempted to share this information with colleagues at FBI headquarters. A CIA desk officer instructed him not to send the cable with this information. Several hours later, this same desk officer drafted a cable distributed solely within the CIA alleging that the visa documents had been shared with the FBI. She admitted that she did not personally share the information and cannot identify who told her they had been shared. We were unable to locate anyone who claimed to have shared the information. Contemporaneous documents contradict the claim that they were shared. DOJ Inspector General interview of Doug M., Feb. 12, 2004, DOJ Inspector General interview of Michael, Oct. 31, 2002, CIA cable, Jan. 5, 2000, DOJ Inspector General report, “A Review of the FBI’s Handling of Intelligence Information Related to the 9/11 Attacks,” July 2, 2004, p. 282.
The tale of the footnote begins at the end of 1999 and in early 2000, the period of the Millennium Alert, when the danger from al Qaeda was the number-one national security priority in the country. It was the focus of meetings held almost daily by the top officials of the U.S. government. By December 31, 1999, relevant working-level officials in the intelligence community were watching two Middle Eastern men in particular —“Khalid” and “Nawaf”—and concluded the two men might be part of an “operational cadre” and that “something nefarious might be afoot.” Twenty-one months later, these two men would help fly American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. During the first week of January 2000, the CIA tracked “Khalid” and “Nawaf” as they traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Three days later, the agency identified “Khalid” as Khalid al Mihdhar. Around the same time, the CIA was sent correspondence from the German intelligence services that included the name “Nawaf” and a phone number. In testifying before the Joint Inquiry, CIA director George Tenet said, “In early January 2000, we managed to obtain a photocopy of Mihdhar’s passport as he traveled to Kuala Lumpur.” With that passport, Tenet knew Mihdhar’s full name, date and place of birth, and his passport number. Even more important, Tenet learned that Mihdhar’s Saudi passport contained a U.S. visa that was good for the next four months—until April 2000. This information meant that al Mihdhar was likely to show up in the United States within the next four months. At that point, the CIA should have given al Mihdhar’s name to the State Department, which could have added Mihdhar’s name to its terrorist watchlist. Adding Mihdhar’s name to the State Department watchlist would have meant that Mihdhar’s entry into the United States would be barred. However, the CIA did not give the name to the State Department. Tenet acknowledged in his testimony to the Joint Inquiry that this was deliberately not done.
Mihdhar and “Nawaf” (whom the CIA had identified as Nawaf al Hazmi, a known al Qaeda killer) traveled to Kuala Lumpur in early January for a terrorist planning session. Participants in the meeting had two goals in mind: the bombing of the USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks. The CIA knew about this meeting and knew where it was taking place. They also knew that the participants in the meeting were major-league killers in al Qaeda and had direct connections to Osama bin Laden. For reasons that remain highly classified, the CIA did not conduct its own surveillance on the meeting. They farmed out that task to a foreign country. Unfortunately, according to the official unclassified story, that foreign country was unable to get “ears” into the terrorist meeting. In other words, they were only able to conduct video surveillance with no voice recording. Again, that is according to the official unclassified version of the story. The two future 9/11 terrorists, al Mihdhar and al Hazmi, were initially tracked through what came to be called “the Osama switchboard.” Bin Laden had used a phone in Yemen as a relay point for messages to be forwarded back and forth to him in Afghanistan. The Yemen number had been known to our CIA and NSA for several years. It was a gold mine of information on al Qaeda. Some of that gold paid off when, months before the meeting in Malaysia, some messages transmitted through the Yemen switchboard indicated that known al Qaeda killers al Hazmi and al Mihdhar would be meeting with other al Qaeda agents in Kuala Lumpur in early January 2000 for what was deemed a terrorist summit. Thereafter, the CIA obtained a photocopy of al Mihdhar’s Saudi passport as he made his way through Dubai in the United Arab Emirates en route to the Malaysia meeting. Al Hazmi was monitored in transit as well. This was not an incidental undertaking. It was a concerted effort made on behalf of our CIA to track these two men as they made their way to the terrorist summit. By the time the two men arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the CIA knew exactly where they were headed: to a condominium complex on the outskirts of the city. A condominium complex, incidentally, that several months later would also host another al Qaeda operative: Zacarias Moussaoui. By January 5, 2000, the case of al Mihdhar and al Hazmi was important enough that it was mentioned in the regular al Qaeda updates being given to top officials of the U.S. government. In fact, on January 3 and 5, the head of the CIA’s al Qaeda unit briefed his bosses on the developments of the operation as part of his regular daily updates. These updates were reviewed daily by CIA director George Tenet and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger. The CIA’s decision not to watchlist—add al Mihdhar and al Hazmi’s names to the State Department list, thereby barring their entry into the United States—might have been discussed, debated, and decided during these meetings. But what specifically was discussed in the meetings remains highly classified. Nevertheless, Tenet’s decision not to watchlist two known al Qaeda killers who were heading into this country nearly two weeks after the Millennium Alert would seem like something that would be discussed in such meetings. Unfortunately we may never know for sure. (Of course, the draft national security documents that Sandy Berger stole in October 2003 might answer some of these questions, but unfortunately Berger supposedly permanently destroyed those highly classified documents—receiving community service as his punishment.)
The Kuala Lumpur meeting took place January 5 through 8, 2000. Malaysian intelligence conducted only photographic surveillance (i.e., not listening devices) on the meeting. These surveillance photos were then transmitted back to CIA headquarters. The photos of the terrorists would prove to be invaluable in the months ahead, but tragically, they would never be capitalized upon in time to thwart the 9/11 attacks.
On January 5 and 6, 2000, the CIA belatedly told the FBI about their al Mihdhar and al Hazmi operation. Only the top FBI officials were briefed about the CIA’s operation. The FBI officials were told that the CIA was in the lead and that the CIA “will immediately bring the FBI into the loop as soon as something concrete developed leading to the criminal arena or to known FBI cases.” Notably, the CIA failed to tell the FBI officials about al Mihdhar’s U.S. visa. At this point, the CIA had now failed to tell not only the State Department, who might have barred the U.S. entry of al Mihdhar and al Hazmi, but also the FBI, who might have conducted an intelligence investigation into al Mihdhar and al Hazmi once they arrived inside the United States. Once again, Tenet makes no apologies for the CIA’s failure to do so.
It is alarming enough that the CIA purposely failed to tell the State Department and the FBI about two known al Qaeda killers who entered this country in early January 2000. More disturbing, however, is that once the Malaysia terrorist summit ended, the CIA simply “lost track” of the terrorists in the “streets of Bangkok.” And according to the unclassified story, the CIA did not pick up the trail of these two men until after the 9/11 attacks, when they were found to be aboard Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
How could the CIA inexplicably lose track of two known al Qaeda killers who were behaving in a criminal manner and headed to the United States? Recall that al Mihdhar and al Hazmi were the topic of daily meetings between Tenet and the Clinton National Security Council. The matter was being closely monitored. And the CIA just lost them? Tenet’s official excuse? The CIA was busy doing other things—it had other priorities. But according to The 9/11 Commission Report, Tenet seems to be lying. I say this because The 9/11 Commission Report details CIA cable traffic that confirmed that active CIA surveillance continued on the two men after the Malaysia terrorist summit had ended. For example, on January 12, 2000, the head of CIA’s al Qaeda unit updated his supervisors in the United States that “surveillance continued” in the al Mihdhar operation. On January 14, 2000, the head of CIA’s al Qaeda unit again updated his bosses that officials were “continuing to track” the suspicious individuals. Moreover, in February 2000, the CIA received a request from foreign authorities to become involved with CIA’s al Mihdhar “operation.” The CIA rejected the request. The CIA’s reason for denying the foreign authorities’ involvement? The CIA was in the midst of trying “to determine what the subject is up to.” Such a statement—in February 2000—makes it hard to sustain any belief in Tenet’s testimony that the CIA “lost” the suspects in the streets of Bangkok back on January 8, 2000.
What happens next with al Hazmi and al Mihdhar is important in establishing how conducting surveillance on these two known killers might have unraveled the entire 9/11 plot. Both al Mihdhar and al Hazmi would come into regular and repeated contact with all of the 9/11 hijackers for the eighteen months following their identification by the CIA. Had surveillance been undertaken, all of the hijackers’ identities would have been compromised. By March 2000, both al Mihdhar and al Hazmi had comfortably settled in San Diego using their real names to sign rental agreements and to obtain their California driver’s licenses. Since the CIA never told the FBI about the U.S. presence of the two known al Qaeda killers, all of this remained a secret from the FBI. Not that the CIA’s withholding of information is any excuse for the FBI, because, as it turned out, the FBI had an informant living in the very same apartment complex as al Mihdhar and al Hazmi. Nevertheless, according to the official, unclassified record, the FBI was unaware of al Mihdhar and al Hazmi and their affiliation with al Qaeda until September 11, 2001. While the FBI was kept in the dark, the unclassified record also indicates that the CIA was given even more information about al Mihdhar and al Hazmi that they could have shared with the FBI.
According to The 9/11 Commission Report, the National Security Agency conducted wiretaps on al Mihdhar while he was living in San Diego. The phone calls were between al Mihdhar and his cousin, who was manning the infamous Yemen switchboard.
Unfortunately, the NSA never checked to see where al Mihdhar’s calls were originating from—i.e., San Diego. The NSA’s oversight in not checking to see where the phone calls were being made from seems hard to believe. Nevertheless, the NSA’s negligence in this regard has been excused and overlooked. So for the nearly five months al Mihdhar was in this country and living with al Hazmi in San Diego, the NSA listened in to his phone calls back to Yemen. Notably, because NSA assumed that al Mihdhar was overseas, they passed all of their information regarding al Mihdhar solely to the CIA—not the FBI. If only the billions budgeted to NSA for intelligence had had room for caller ID. If they had just informed the FBI about the presence of al Mihdhar within our borders, the FBI would have been able to begin its investigation more than a full year before 9/11.
On June 10, 2000, al Mihdhar flew from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, Germany. If he’d ever been placed on a watchlist, he would have been nabbed as he tried to leave the country. But the CIA had purposefully chosen not to do this. Al Mihdhar apparently returned to the United States in December 2000. He turned up in New York City to get an identification card from USA ID, a company that made identification cards in New York City. This would have been the fourth time al Mihdhar could have been detained if only the CIA had shared information about al Mihdhar’s U.S. visa with the State Department. Meanwhile, al Hazmi moved to Mesa, Arizona, in late December, where he lived and took flight courses alongside Hani Hanjour, the future pilot of Flight 77. Shortly before 9/11, both al Hazmi and Hanjour traveled to Virginia, where they met up with the hijackers who would eventually fly United Airlines Flight 175 into the World Trade Center. Hanjour, a Saudi who was described as quietly submissive, already had his FAA commercial license. It had taken him a few years to pass the test because of his abysmal English and poor aviation skills. During their nine months in Arizona, al Hazmi and Hani Hanjour did extensive flight training and communicated with several other 9/11 hijackers. During the summer of 2001, these men received wire transfers from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind 9/11, and Ramzi bin al Shibh, the alleged money man behind 9/11. When they registered for their flight schools or took practice flights across the country, they did so in their own names. They also visited with individuals who were already under FBI surveillance. Some of these subjects would be mentioned in the now-famous Phoenix memo penned by FBI agent Kenneth Williams.
- De nefaste rol van George Tenet:
George Tenet is the man who knows. He was the director of the CIA on 9/11 and had served in that capacity since President Clinton appointed him to the job in 1997. He has had at least two opportunities under oath to explain why the CIA kept the State Department and the FBI in the dark about the two al Qaeda members in this country: his testimonies before the congressional Joint Inquiry and before the 9/11 Commission. But the most Tenet has ever said publicly is “We failed to do so.” Now, doesn’t the obvious follow-up question seem to be “Why? Why did you fail to do so? Who was responsible? If that person was following orders, whose orders were they? If they came from the president, what was the policy or strategy behind it?”
- Nalatigheid? Of is er meer aan de hand?
I think it’s clear, though, that the entire 9/11 plot could have been unraveled if al Hazmi and al Mihdhar had been consistently monitored from the time of their arrival in the United States in January 2000. After the Cole bombing, on October 12, 2000, which killed seventeen sailors, al Mihdhar and al Hazmi should have been arrested. From June 2001 onwards, they intersected with all seventeen of the other 9/11 hijackers, and in those now infamous words of George Tenet, “The system was blinking red.” Al Qaeda sources were chattering and something was brewing. But what? And, more important, when?
- Able Danger: de zoveelste gemiste kans (en cover-up):
Able Danger was a data-mining operation that allegedly identified several of the nineteen hijackers before 9/11: Mohamed Atta, Khalid al Mihdhar, Nawaf al Hazmi, and Marwan al Shehi. The Able Danger operation was supposedly shut down in May 2001 because it had conducted illegal surveillance on U.S. citizens. This argument is illogical since, according to the media accounts I have read, Able Danger used all “open source” data—in other words, it used public information to create its targets. Moreover, the hijackers identified by Able Danger were not U.S. citizens and therefore not entitled to the same rights and privileges as Americans. Rather, they were in this country illegally since their visas had inherent flaws and/or certain indicators that should have barred their entry into this country or been grounds to deport them. Nevertheless, according to media reports, when the Able Danger team raised these very same points with the Defense Department attorneys, the attorneys apparently ignored their arguments and shut down the program. The Able Danger surveillance techniques were apparently transferred to the NSA, however, and quite possibly the CIA; how these two agencies might have used the data-mining technique remains classified. Regardless, what remains disturbing to me is that the Able Danger files containing all the gathered evidence about al Qaeda sleeper cells inside the United States in May 2001—a mere four months before the 9/11 attacks—were reportedly destroyed and not shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI. Why?
Perhaps even more alarming, the identified sleeper cells (the four identified 9/11 hijackers) were left alone (and alive) to carry out their final plans and preparations. To reiterate, in May of 2001, four known al Qaeda killers who were identified and targeted by our intelligence community (specifically Special Operations Command at DOD, where Able Danger was created) to be “taken out” were ignored and thus allowed to finish their final preparations for the 9/11 attacks. All the files and information about these four al Qaeda killers were permanently destroyed and not capitalized upon, and even the presence of these killers within this country was a fact not shared with the FBI. Recall that at this very time, late spring of 2001, people like George Tenet, Richard Clarke, and Condoleezza Rice were anticipating an imminent terrorist attack from Osama bin Laden. Also recall the August 4, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike the United States.” How is it possible that these four men were just left alone to continue their plans and preparations for the 9/11 attacks that would occur a mere three months later? Particularly when at least two of these identified sleeper cells had direct involvement in the USS Cole bombing that killed seventeen sailors in October 2000. As previously stated, the four hijackers identified by Able Danger were inside this country with U.S. visas that were inherently and/or patently flawed. So, even if Able Danger was shut down at DOD, the question must be asked: Why were four known and dangerous al Qaeda operatives not immediately detained and deported for their visa violations? Unfortunately, at this point we have no answers as to why that did not happen. Moreover, questions remain as to whether the program was shifted to another agency like the NSA or CIA; and if so, whether this other agency continued to carry out surveillance on these four men for the remaining four months preceding the 9/11 attacks.