"There was not a lack of information sharing. They told us everything - except this."
--Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism advisor to the White House on September 11, 2001
Ten years late, former Bush and Clinton administration official Richard Clarke has gone on record about the cover-up at the CIA regarding the "San Diego Cell." Recall that two of the alleged hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Kalid al-Mihdhar were known Al Qaeda members who held "multi entry US visas" in their possession (issued by our own State Department).
In his recent accounting Richard Clarke falls just short of accusing George Tenet and Co. of high treason.
The filmmakers behind 9/11 Press For Truth interviewed Clarke for a new upcoming investigation called Secrecy Kills http://secrecykills.com/. Clarke's statements are up on Youtube."
The two hijackers entered the United States 16 months prior to the attacks, after being monitored in Malaysia at a meeting of known Al Qaeda operatives. The CIA received reports of their identities, and then deliberately hid this information from FBI as well as from Clarke's office.
Facts most damaging to the CIA in Clarke's report.
1) Numerous personnel at CIA knew about the Al Qaeda operatives living in San Diego.
Clarke: "It's not as I originally thought, which was that one lonely CIA analyst got this information and didn't somehow recognize the significance of it. No, fifty, 5-0, CIA personnel knew about this. Among the fifty people in CIA who knew these guys were in the country was the CIA director."
2) Richard Clarke, as the chief counterterrorism advisor to the White House would automatically receive all reports unless there was active interference to prevent him from receiving the intelligence.
Clarke: "Unless someone intervened to stop the normal automatic distribution, I would automatically get it... For me to this day it is inexplicable why, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn't tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn't tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months... We therefore conclude that there was a high-level decision inside CIA ordering people not to share that information."
3) That the active participation of the Saudis can be factored in, either as a cover story or as the true explanation of their role vis a vis al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar.
Clarke speculates that the CIA attempted to "flip" the two Al Qaeda agents using Saudi intelligence to approach them. The use of foreign agents on US soil would get around the legal restriction barring the CIA from operating here?
This theory of Clarke's seems unsupportable for two reasons.
1) They did not "flip" them.
2) Having not flipped them, the Al Qaeda men were left to go about their business unmolested for fifteen months after either refusing to be compromised or just ignoring further contact, as the record so far seems to show. With how much veracity was this alleged "flipping" attempted?
However, as a cover story used to convince "fifty, 5-0" underlings that what they were doing was legitimate the idea has merit. As an excuse to float, and to cut off inquiry, the cover story seems plausible and plausibly deniable.
Clarke seems baffled as to why the CIA decided to inform several low-level FBI agents about the two men on August 21st of 2001, after 15 months.