President Bush should be stopped in his tracks with regard to his use of 9/11 scare tactics to circumvent constitutional laws that are meant to protect U.S. citizens. His justification for doing so -- the inability to conduct surveillance on the 9/11 hijackers -- is a red herring. History will bear out the truth -- our intelligence agencies held a treasure trove of intelligence on the 9/11 hijackers, intelligence that was gathered through their initially unencumbered surveillance. President Bush should busy himself by investigating why that information was then stymied and not capitalized upon to stop the 9/11 attacks.
MOUSSAOUI, FISA, and FBI SURVEILLANCE -- MISUNDERSTANDING #1:
When it comes to the FBI and Zaccarias Moussaoui, one must understand that the FBI met all evidentiary standards to both apply for and be granted a FISA warrant. The information the FBI had to support their FISA request was two files on Moussaoui that were given to the FBI by the French and British intelligence services. Inexplicably, FBI lawyers and supervisors at FBI HQ "misunderstood" the evidentiary standards needed to apply for and receive a FISA warrant, and they refused the FISA request from the FBI agents in Minneapolis. Thus, the Moussaoui search warrant paperwork was never submitted to the FISA court. One need only read Colleen Rowley's memorandum to confirm these facts.
Had FBI HQ not denied the FISA request, the FISA court would have issued the search warrant to search Moussaoui's belongings. Whether gaining access to Moussaoui's belongings would have stopped the 9/11 attacks remains unknown at this time. Hopefully, Moussaoui's upcoming penalty phase hearing will reveal more information as to what the FBI/CIA/DOD/NSA already knew about Moussaoui during the summer of 2001 and whether getting the FISA warrant to search Moussaoui belongings would have even made a difference.
None of the FBI lawyers and/or supervisors responsible for this glaring error and "misjudgment" has been held accountable.
AL MIHDHAR/AL HAZMI & THE STATE DEPARTMENT-MISUNDERSTANDING #2:
When it comes to al Mihdhar and al Hazmi, the story is relatively the same -- more "misunderstandings" that blocked surveillance and prevention of the 9/11 attacks. The official story is that the "Reno Wall" blocked the FBI from receiving vital information regarding al Mihdhar and al Hazmi. Allegedly, that vital information was contained in FBI files that pertained to the USS Cole bombing investigation. Both al Mihdhar and al Hazmi were connected to the Cole bombing and as such were investigated as part of the FBI's Cole investigation.
If, in the summer of 2001, the FBI had been able to access their own criminal case files on the Cole investigation, they might have been able to stop al Mihdhar and al Hazmi before they carried out the 9/11 attacks. Because of the "misunderstanding" about sharing information between FBI intelligence and FBI criminal investigations (the Reno wall), vital information that would have helped the FBI locate al Mihdhar and al Hazmi was not shared within the FBI. As a result, Al Mihdhar and al Hazmi were not found by the FBI in time to prevent the 9/11 attacks. So goes the story, if only the "misunderstandings" about the Reno wall had not existed, the two 9/11 hijackers would have been stopped. This is patently false, because, the Reno wall did not prevent the FBI from capturing at least one of the 9/11 hijackers--Khalid al Mihdhar.
Evidence in the 9/11 Commission's Final Report indicates that there was no "misunderstanding" of the Reno Wall. Quite the opposite from any misunderstanding, evidence from the State Department proves that al Mihdhar was:
1. Known by the FBI as an armed and dangerous terrorist participating in terrorist acts,
2. Identified as a potential witness in an FBI investigation, and yet,
3. Inexplicably, a mere 6 days before 9/11, listed and ordered to be an individual not to be detained if caught by government inspectors.
Page 42 of the Commission's "Terrorist Travel" Supplement states the following:
August 31st--a new listing for Mihdhar was placed in an INS and Customs lookout database, describing him as "armed and dangerous" and someone who must be referred to secondary inspection.
September 4--The State Department used its visa revocation authority under section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to revoke Mihdhar's visa under section 212 (A)(3)(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for his participation in terrorist activities. (One of which is defined as airline hijackings)
September 5--INS entered the September 4 notice of revocation of Mihdhar's visa into the INS lookout system. The State Department identified Mihdhar as a potential witness in an FBI investigation, and inspectors were told not to detain him.
For what FBI investigation was al Mihdhar a potential witness? Why was it first ordered to detain al Mihdhar because he was armed and dangerous and thereafter ordered to not detain him because he was a potential witness in an FBI investigation? Al Mihdhar was "armed and dangerous" and "participating in terrorist acts" that were defined as "airline hijackings" and using "weapons of mass destruction." Who ordered his non-detainment a mere five days before 9/11? Perhaps current Secretary of State Rice (former National Security Advisor on 9/11) or her State Department counsel, Philip Zelikow, (former 9/11 Commission Staff Director) might have some answers?