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FBI inquiries squashed


Several promising FBI investigations that could have uncovered the plot in advance were weirdly squashed before they could be completed.

  • July 10, 2001, Phoenix: FBI agent Ken Williams sends a memorandum to the FBI counterterrorism division with warnings about suspicious activities involving Middle Eastern men who were taking flight training lessons. He was reassigned to an arson case after beginning his investigation, and finally put back on it after a retired agent wrote to FBI Director Mueller asking "Why take your best terrorism investigator and put him on an arson case?" Nothing was done about Williams' memo, however.

  • Mid August, 2001, Minneapolis: Staff at a flight school reports suspicions about Zacarias Moussaoui. FBI arrests him, find many suspicious things about him, and request permission to search his laptop. Even though FBI had other info about him, e.g., intelligence from France that clearly showed he was a threat, the search warrant was denied. Having seen the French report and from their own inquiries, the Minneapolis agents were "in a frenzy" because they believed Moussaoui might "fly something into the World Trade Center." They submitted a search warrant request to headquarters again, this time under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which regularly granted "virtually all requests." The request was passed through the "Radical Fundamentalist Unit" (RFU), where it was edited by RFU agent Marion "Spike" Bowman to delete evidence that Moussaoui was connected to Al Qaeda. Based on the watered-down information, the FBI Deputy General Counsel refused to forward the request to FISA. Minneapolis FBI legal officer Coleen Rowley asked: "Why would an FBI agent deliberately sabotage a case?"

  • January 2001, Chicago: FBI agent Robert Wright, building a case against a terrorist cell in his area since 1998, has has case abruptly closed in January 2001 over his protests that his case was growing stronger. He was told it was "better to let sleeping dogs lie." "Those dogs weren't sleeping," he said, "they were training, they were getting ready...September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit." Federal prosecutor Mark Flessner also worked on the case, and felt that there "were powers bigger than I was in teh Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let [the building of a criminal case] happen."

  • August 28, 2001, New York: On this date, the FBI office in NY tried to convince FBI headquarters to investigate Khalid Almihdhar, later named as one of the hijackers. The request was turned down because the investigation could not proceed without the inclusion of sensitive intelligence. One of the NY agents said: "Whatever has happened to this -- someday someone will die...The biggest threat to us now, UBL [Usama bin Laden], is getting the most 'protection'."

  • September 13, 2001: David Schippers, former Chief Investigative Counsel for the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, publicly states that he attempted to warn Attorney General John Ashcroft six weeks before September 11 about imminent attacks on lower Manhattan, based on information he had been given by FBI agents. He says the dates and targets were known by these agents, that their investigations had been curtailed by higher-ups, and that they had been threatened with prosecution if they tried to go public. FBI agents have confirmed that specific knowledge of the attacks was widely known within the Bureau, as was how the warnings were being ignored in Washington.

Source: Griffin, p. 80-85. See also William Norman Grigg, "Did We Know What Was Coming?" in New American 18/5, March 11, 2002.


I think this is all rather bleeding suspicious. Now, let's not get carried away: people make mistakes, bureaucracies are often hidebound and obstructive just by their nature, and furthermore who knows how many warnings are received daily by how many government officials on how many supposed threats.

But still, this is rather bleeding suspicious. I hold back on one star only because of the possibility of the incompetence factor.

Bottom line, me, I give it:

rather suspiciousrather suspiciousrather suspicious


Currently showing comments 1 through 2 of 2 total comments.

1. sunny 11 Jan 2008 09:36:28 PM

This one makes my blood boil. The incompetence factor is there but squashing is entirely plausible.

2. john 11 Jan 2008 09:47:34 PM

Me too! Boiling blood for me as well!

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