Sunday, March 12, 2006

The FBI's lies, the Washington Post, Zacarias Moussaoui and the United States of Amnesia

First, a historical note, courtesy of the Washington Post:

Six years before the Sept. 11 attacks, Philippine police took down an al Qaeda cell in Manila that, among other things, had been plotting to fly explosives-laden planes into the Pentagon -- and possibly some skyscrapers. The CIA knew about the plot, known as Operation Bojinka. So did the FBI. "We told the Americans about the plans to turn planes into flying bombs as far back as 1995," a Philippine inspector says.
Now, today's news, courtesy of the Washington Post:

FBI Knew al-Qaeda Pilots Training in U.S.

Agency Knew of Flight Training Before 9/11, Moussaoui Jury Told

By Timothy Dwyer and William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, March 7, 2006; 12:57 PM

A top FBI expert on the al-Qaeda terrorist network testified in court today that the agency knew before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the group's leader, Osama bin Laden, had sent followers to an Oklahoma flight school to train as pilots and was interested in hijacking airplanes.

FBI agent Michael Anticev said investigators understood that bin Laden used the flight school in Norman, Okla., to train pilots to fly his own aircraft. He also acknowledged that the FBI knew before the Sept. 11 attacks that al-Qaeda was training pilots to hijack planes, but he said the agency believed the aim was to carry out conventional hijackings and fly the aircraft to other countries, rather than crash them into buildings.

Is this excuse even remotely plausible?

Do Popes shit in the woods?

MASCAL Mass Casualty Training Exercise, November 3, 2000

Two months before the attacks, Italian security officials had anticipated the possibility of planes hijacked by Muslim extremists attacking the G8 summit in Genoa (which George W. Bush had attended). The BBC reported:
What was the FBI up to while all this was going on? Here is some more very recent history, from Paul Thompson's Complete Timeline at the Center for Cooperative Research:
August 23-27, 2001: Minnesota FBI Agents Convinced Moussaoui Plans to Do Something with a Plane, Undermined by FBI Headquarters

In the wake of the French intelligence report (see August 22, 2001) on Zacarias Moussaoui, FBI agents in Minnesota are “in a frenzy” and “absolutely convinced he [is] planning to do something with a plane.” One agent writes notes speculating Moussaoui might “fly something into the World Trade Center.” [Newsweek, 5/20/02] Minnesota FBI agents become “desperate to search the computer lap top” and “conduct a more thorough search of his personal effects,” especially since Moussaoui acted as if he was hiding something important in the laptop when arrested. [Time, 5/27/02; Time, 5/21/02] They decide to apply for a search warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). “FISA allows the FBI to carry out wiretaps and searches that would otherwise be unconstitutional” because “the goal is to gather intelligence, not evidence.” [Washington Post, 11/4/01] Standards to get a warrant through FISA are so low that out of 10,000 requests over more than 20 years, not a single one was turned down. Previously, when the FBI did not have a strong enough case, it allegedly simply lied to FISA. In May 2002, the FISA court complained that the FBI had lied in at least 75 warrant cases during the Clinton administration, once even by the FBI director. [New York Times, 8/27/02] However, as FBI Agent Coleen Rowley later puts it, FBI headquarters “almost inexplicably, throw[s] up roadblocks” and undermines their efforts. Headquarters personnel bring up “almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause.” One Minneapolis agent's e-mail says FBI headquarters is “setting this up for failure.” That turns out to be correct. [Time, 5/21/02; Time, 5/27/02]

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