July 25, 2003

If Only...

The Economist writes about the 911 intelligence failures report:

Economist.com | Intelligence failures: ...The most important detail, first revealed by Newsweek, is that the FBI had a long-time informant in San Diego who had "numerous" contacts with two of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, including renting a room to them. But the informant found nothing suspicious about their behaviour; he did not even bother to tell the FBI their full names. And the CIA failed to tell the FBI that it had evidence linking the two men to terrorism: both attended an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000.

About a month before September 11th, the CIA at last got round to including the two men's names in a communication to the FBI, saying they were suspected terrorists who might well be in the country. But FBI agents in Washington sent the names only to the bureau's counter-terrorism offices in New York and Los Angeles--and the full names were not passed on to agents in San Diego until the hijackers were identified from passenger manifests after September 11th.

The report also throws out a tantalising detail about a Saudi called Omar al-Bayoumi. Mr al-Bayoumi met the two hijackers in a restaurant in Los Angeles, provided them with contacts in the Muslim community in San Diego, and even wrote a cheque for the deposit on their apartment. Mr al-Bayoumi (now living in Saudi Arabia) had ties to officials at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Los Angeles and, according to one FBI source, was almost certainly "an intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia or another foreign power".

And so? Something has been done to make intelligence agencies pool information. The Department of Homeland Security brings bureaucratic clout to the struggle to stop terrorism. But America still does not possess an internal security service on the model of, say, Britain's MI5, and the security world is still riven by turf wars.

The report points to another problem: America's continuing hesitation to speak openly to Saudi Arabia, even though 15 of the 19 hijackers came from that country and the Saudi establishment continues to finance Wahhabi extremism around the world. The original document contained 28 pages that reportedly criticised the Saudi government for not properly tackling Muslim extremism. They have been blacked out of the published version...

Posted by DeLong at July 25, 2003 01:30 PM | TrackBack


The thing about heirarchical bureaucracies, especially those tasked with "sensitive" missions such as gathering intelligence--bureaucracies like NSA, CIA, FBI & etc.--is that everything that IS "produced" by the people at the lower levels of them flows, essentially unimpeded, to the very few people at the "apex" of the "pyramid" (the jargon for this feature of the process is "compartmentalized"). What this means in practice is that most people involved in the process don't know what the other people at their OWN "level" in their OWN bureaucracy know--never mind what their "superiors" might be privvy to--and forget about what might be "common knowledge" in any of the other bureaucracies.

This ALSO means that the onus of "putting the puzzle together" (and, NOT incidentally, directing and deploying bureaucratic efforts and assets accordingly) falls upon the very few persons at the top--the "fortunate few" who actually get to see everything that is produced by the various sections, branches and stations of the various bureaucracies. If THESE people, for whatever reason, are disposed (or determined) not to notice (or do anything about) something "peculiar", odds are it won't be noticed or investigated or disturbed or disrupted....

9/11 Attack Investigators Complain About Hindrances

Bush team is dragging its feet on access to papers and is cowing witnesses, they say.

July 9, 2003
By Greg Miller, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Leaders of a federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks complained Tuesday that the Bush administration has been too slow to provide access to key documents and is intimidating witnesses by insisting that CIA and FBI "minders" attend sensitive interviews....


July 19, 2003, 12:12AM

U.S. tallied up assets well before war

Documents list Cheney group's activities


Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The energy task force led by Vice President Dick Cheney was examining maps of Iraq's oil assets in March 2001, two years before the United States led an invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, newly released documents show...




U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba

By David Ruppe

N E W Y O R K, May 1 — In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war...


Posted by: Mike on July 26, 2003 04:22 AM
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