Monday, September 29, 2008

Media War on "Conspiracy Theorists"/Letter to the NYT - 9/11 and the “War on Terrorism”: Facts and Myths

By Jeremy R. Hammond
28 September 2008

A recent New York Times article examined how Arabs in the Middle East don’t believe the official story of what happened on September 11, 2001 and are rather apt to think the U.S. government itself had a hand in the terrorist attacks. The title of the article dismisses the notion, reading “9/11 Rumors That Become Conventional Wisdom” [by Middle East correspondent MICHAEL SLACKMAN]. But what the Times fails to recognize is that behind many myths often lies an element of truth.

The article begins, “Seven years later, it remains conventional wisdom here that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda could not have been solely responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that the United States and Israel had to have been involved in their planning, if not their execution, too.”

This is the talk, the article notes, in Dubai, in Algiers, in Riyadh, and in Cairo. A Syrian man living and working in the United Arab Emirates told the Times, “I think the U.S. organized this so that they had an excuse to invade Iraq for the oil.”

This kind of thinking, the Times tells us “represents the first failure in the fight against terrorism — the inability to convince people here that the United States is, indeed, waging a campaign against terrorism, not a crusade against Muslims.”

No, the U.S. Is not waging a crusade against Muslims. But neither is it waging a campaign against terrorism. No doubt, Ahmed Issab, the Syrian quoted above, could point out to the Times that this is one of the biggest myths of them all, as the case of Iraq clearly demonstrates.

Iraq has repeatedly been called “the central front in the war on terrorism” by President Bush and others. And it certainly became so, as was well predicted would occur – as a result of the U.S. Invasion.

To speak of myths that have become conventional wisdom, take the notion that there was an “intelligence failure” leading up to the war on Iraq. This is pure nonsense. There was no intelligence failure. The simple fact of the matter, easily demonstrable, is that U.S. Government officials lied about, misled, spun, and exaggerated the “threat” posed by Iraq and it’s alleged WMD and supposed ties to al Qaeda. To document the deceptions employed is beyond our purposes here; suffice to say that there never was any credible evidence that Iraq still possessed weapons of mass destruction, or that it had any sort of operational relationship with al Qaeda. Many people, myself included, were saying that for many months before the U.S. Invaded, and time certainly confirmed the truth of what we were trying to warn others about.

And how can one argue that the war against Iraq was waged to combat terrorism? What evidence is there of this? We have only the declarations of benevolent intent from the same people who engaged in a campaign of deception to convince the American public of the necessity of the war in the first place. Sure, they say it’s a “war on terrorism”. But statements of intent are not evidence. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who terrorized his own people. But the U.S. didn’t care about that. After all, our government supported Saddam during his most heinous crimes; including when he “gassed his own people”, killing 5,000, in the village of Halabjah.

Moreover, it was well predicted by every competent analyst that invading Iraq would only cause more resentment towards the U.S. And hatred of its foreign policies. A war in Iraq would be a “poster” for al Qaeda, many experts noted, and recruitment at militant schools and terrorist training camps would only increase as a result. The world would become an even more dangerous place and acts of terrorism would only increase.

It would have been welcome had such dire predictions been wrong. But they weren’t. Acts of terrorism worldwide have increased considerably since the “war on terrorism” began. A great many of these terrorist incidents have occurred in Iraq, a country where such heinous crimes were virtually unknown prior to the U.S. Invasion.

And there’s the even bigger fact that war itself is terrorism. In fact, the crime of aggression is even worse than state-sponsored international terrorism under international law. A war of aggression is “the supreme international crime”, as defined at Nuremberg, “differing only from other crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

But what about Afghanistan? It’s “the good war”, after all, we’re told. Even many who opposed the invasion of Iraq were in favor of invading Afghanistan and overthrowing the Taliban. But there’s an all-too-often missing context here, too, that should be considered when ultimately judging U.S. military intervention. And that is that the Taliban – and al Qaeda – is ultimately a creation of U.S. foreign policy.

The U.S. support for the Afghan mujahedeen is well known. But in the official history the myth is propagated – regarded as conventional wisdom – that this support for the radical militants President Reagan called “freedom fighters” was a response to the Soviet invasion. In fact, covert aid began under Carter six months prior to the Soviet invasion, and according to Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski himself, the purpose was to try to draw the Soviets in to a conflict – to give them “their Vietnam war”, as he put it.

So the CIA financed, armed, and trained – acting through their intermediary, Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) – the most radical militants they could find. One Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, for instance, was the principle recipient of U.S. aid. His name is still in the media from time to time – he is now one of the principle enemies fighting U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan.

And, of course, the CIA’s base of operations was in Peshawar, Pakistan. Religious schools, or madrassas, were established along Pakistan’s northwest border regions, where recruits were trained and radicalized to fight the Soviets. In fact, it is from these madrassas that the movement known as the Taliban would later come – “Taliban” is the plural form of “Talib”, Pashto for “student”.

And another well known figure of the Soviet-Afghan war also set up his base of operations in Peshawar – Osama bin Laden. At the very least, the CIA was knowledgeable of and approved bin Laden’s operations. In fact, the U.S. looked the other way while branches of his organization established bases of operation within the United States, and may have even actively supported his efforts with the mindset during the “Cold War” that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

Before bin Laden’s organization became known as “al Qaeda”, or “the Base”, it was known as Makhtab al-Khidamat. Either as an alias or subsidiary branch, it was also known as Al Kifah. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has this to say about it: “Makhtab al-Khidamat/Al Kifah (MK) is considered to be the pre-cursor organization to al Qaida and the basis for its infrastructure. MK was initially created by Usama bin Laden’s (UBL) mentor, Shaykh Abdullah Azzam, who was also the spiritual founder of Hamas, as an organization to fund mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghan conflict. MK has helped funnel fighters and money to the Afghan resistance in Peshawar, Pakistan, and had established recruitment centers worldwide to fight the Soviets.”

One of those recruitment centers was the Alkifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, New York. One of the mosques from which a certain Omar Abdel Rahman, a.k.a. “the Blind Sheikh”, preached was a few doors down from Alkifah.

The Sheikh was good friends with Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, and had travelled to Peshawar to meet with the CIA’s favored beneficiary.

Despite being on the terrorist watch list, Sheikh Omar was allowed to enter the U.S. In fact, his visa was approved by the CIA. And in fact, the Sheikh travelled in and out of the country at will and it was the CIA itself which reviewed and approved his application on at least six separate occasions.

You read correctly. It was reported in the New York Times, in several separate stories, that the CIA had approved a known suspected terrorist, believed to have masterminded acts of terrorism in Egypt, including the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, and allowed him into the country, where he helped to recruit young Muslims through a cell in the organization that would eventually become known as al Qaeda.

What’s more, that same individual would later be named as one of the masterminds of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

There’s much more to that story, too – such as the case of one Ali Mohammed, terrorist mastermind extraordinaire. If you’ve never heard of him, that’s perhaps not too surprising. Despite being named as one of the planners and organizers of the 1993 WTC bombing and having a web of connections that suggest he was also a principle figure in paving the way for the terrorist cells that would carry out the 9/11 attacks, his name is rarely mentioned. That might have something to do with the embarrassing fact that Mohammed was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army and at one time or another worked for both the FBI and the CIA.

But lest we digress down that road too much further, let us return to the war in Afghanistan. Not everyone agreed after 9/11 that invading Afghanistan was the correct response to that horrible atrocity. Many of us argued that waging a war that would certainly result in even more innocent people being killed would not be justice. Indeed, more Afghan civilians were killed in the first several months of the war than died on 9/11. Many more have died since then in the violence that is ongoing, nearly seven years later.

And those of us who opposed this military action also pointed out that the people whom the U.S. was gearing up to recruit as its allies in the fight against the Taliban, the leaders of the so-called Northern Alliance, were many of the same brutal warlords whom the Afghan people were so glad to be rid of the first time that they actually welcomed the Taliban as liberators when the Taliban drove the warlords out.

And we warned that such action would only destabilize the region further. Just as the U.S.’s intervention in Afghanistan throughout the 80s – and its total abandonment of the country it used as its battlefield in its proxy war against the Soviet Union; a war that devastated the nation, killed a million of its inhabitants, and made refugees out of three million more – resulted in the “blowback” terrorism of the 90s and of 9/11, so too would yet another major war in Afghanistan sow the seeds of misery and death and hatred that could only end in more “blowback” in the future.

Afghanistan, for instance, is the world’s leading producer of opium poppies. Most of the world’s heroin is now manufactured from poppies grown in Afghanistan. The drug trade in Afghanistan initially grew and flourished during the Soviet-Afghan war. If not actually participating in the trade itself (for which there is precedent), the CIA at the very least turned a blind eye while its main assets profited from drug trafficking and used the proceeds to help fight the war against the Soviet occupation. Afghanistan became the world’s leading producer of opium during this period.

Then the Taliban succeeded in nearly eradicating the crop in 2001. But with their overthrow, many – including warlord allies of the U.S. – began profiting once more from the trade. It wasn’t long after the ousting of the Taliban that experts began warning that Afghanistan was becoming a narco-terrorist state. Opium production grew to surpass all previous records. And while there has been some success, mostly in just the past year, in eradicating the crop from government-controlled provinces, production has increased in areas now under control of the resurging Taliban.

Moreover, members of al Qaeda and the Taliban, most likely including Osama bin Laden – who, needless to say, was never caught – fled into Pakistan, where they reestablished themselves. The chickens had gone home to roost. The war on Afghanistan has led directly to the increasing destabilization of neighboring nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Fortunately, there is some hope that the principles of democracy might prevail in Pakistan, where the prevailing public mind is more moderate and who view the militants and terrorists as a plague upon their land – a plague that was allowed not only a place to sustain itself, but to grow and expand under the government of Pervez Musharraf.

After 9/11, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf pledged to assist the U.S. in its “war on terrorism”. This was an absurdity. Pakistan had been up to that very day the principle benefactor of the Taliban, and arguably continued to be long after. Pakistan’s shadowy intelligence agency, the ISI – sometimes referred to as a state within a state – has long been accused of links to terrorists and acts of terrorism.

In fact, according to reports in the international media (it only received one brief mention in the U.S., outside of the alternative media, in a blog on the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal website) – including Pakistan’s Dawn, the Times of India, Agence-France Presse, the London Times, and the Guardian – it was the head of the ISI himself, Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, who was responsible for authorizing the transfer by Omar Sayeed Sheikh of $100,000 to 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta.

According to the reports, the FBI had worked in tandem with India’s intelligence services to track where the 9/11 “money trail” led to – until it ended up leading to the ISI chief himself. Then suddenly the story of the money trail – up until then big news – quietly disappeared from the headlines. Mahmud Ahmed was even more quietly removed and replaced just as the story broke.

The Bush administration opposed any independent investigation of 9/11. It was only due to tremendous public pressure, with the families of 9/11 victims themselves taking a lead role, that led to the 9/11 Commission being established – a commission that only with the greatest cynicism could one call “independent”. The families submitted lists of questions for the 9/11 Commission to investigate and answer. One of them had to do with the alleged financing of the operation by Pakistan’s ISI chief.

The Commission report is not silent on the matter of financing. No, indeed. It states that no evidence has emerged indicating the involvement of any state or government official in the attacks. What’s more, it states that ultimately the question of who financed the attacks “is of little practical significance”.

That’s right. The 9/11 Commission concluded in its report that it isn’t important to follow the money trail leading to those ultimately responsible for this crime. We know for a fact that its members were made aware of the allegations of ISI involvement, so they can’t claim ignorance as an excuse. And if the Commission in fact investigated the allegations and found that they were unsubstantiated, wouldn’t that be worthy of even a footnote? Instead, the report simply denies with its silence that the reports even exist and tries to convince its readers that they needn’t bother to trouble themselves with the question. Don’t look at that man behind the curtain.

But again we digress. Despite continuing evidence of Pakistani support for terrorists and armed militants from within the ISI and Pakistani military, the U.S. continued to back Musharraf, a dictator who seized power in a coup in 1999. The government in Washington continued to support him even as he held a fraud election last year, declared martial law, suspended the constitution, replaced judges – including on Pakistan’s Supreme Court – with his own lackeys, and cracked down on his political opposition – all in the name of fighting terrorism, a cynical euphemism he could only get away with under the backing of those in Washington only too well familiar with employing the same rhetorical device to push through their own ideologically driven policies and agendas.

There is no shortage in history of governments violating human rights and freedoms in the name of security. That trend continues today, and the United States is no exception.

Returning to the point, the fact is that those who argue that the U.S. is fighting a “war on terrorism” don’t have a leg to stand on. The very notion is an absurdity. The world’s leading culprit of state-sponsored terrorism – the only country ever to have been found guilty of what amounts to international terrorism, the “unlawful use of force”, for its proxy terrorist war against the elected government of Nicaragua (giving the U.S. the benefit of the doubt that its actions didn’t amount to the even greater crime of aggression) by the World Court – cannot possibly fight a “war on terrorism”.

This would be like Panama declaring under Manuel Noriega (a long-time CIA asset) that it was waging a “war on drugs”.

It’s an absurdity to even suggest that the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it during the war against Vietnam (words that ring even more true today), could be fighting a “war on terrorism”, particularly by such means as invading and bombing other countries. Bringing death, sorrow, and even further hardship to peoples of other regions does not help bring about an end of the scourge of terrorism that plagues the Earth. It only contributes to that scourge.

So let’s return to the Times’ assumption that there is a “campaign against terrorism” going on. This is a myth. On the opinion of Mr. Ahmed Issab that 9/11 was actually the result of a plot by the U.S. government to serve as a pretext for expanding its global hegemony overseas, the author of the piece states, “It is easy for Americans to dismiss such thinking as bizarre.”

Perhaps the Times reporter has spent too much time overseas. One needn’t travel to Riyadh or Cairo to find people who believe just that. There’s no shortage of Americans who share in that belief.

Such Americans point to the fact that the so-called neo-conservatives setting policy in the Bush administration are the same bunch of folks who had for so long argued that the U.S. needed a “transformation” of its military into a force capable of fighting multiple simultaneous wars to be able to further the goal of global hegemony, particularly over the energy-rich Middle East and Central Asian regions.

They point out that plans to overthrow the Taliban existed prior to the 9/11 attacks, and that Iraq – its people long the victim of the U.S. policy of “regime change” – was in the government’s sights immediately after the attacks, despite there not being any evidence of Iraqi involvement whatsoever.

They also point out that there was a consensus among policy-makers that this “transformation” and the expansion of U.S. global dominance could not happen without some sort of catalyst – “like a new Pearl Harbor”, to use their own words. And these same planners were among those to compare the 9/11 attacks to the attack on Pearl Harbor after the fact. 9/11, some even said openly, was an “opportunity” to further their goals for the U.S. in its foreign policy.

But the Times, while suggesting the idea is without foundation, says we shouldn’t dismiss such thinking as that expressed by Mr. Issab. The reason given is instructive; to do so would be to fail to learn the lesson that the U.S. has failed “in the fight against terrorism” to actually “convince people” in the Middle East “that the United States is, indeed, waging a campaign against terrorism”.

In other words, the U.S. is losing the propaganda war.

The Times notes that many Arabs are convinced that the U.S. and Israel were actually behind the 9/11 attacks. “The rumors that spread shortly after 9/11 have been passed on so often that people no longer know where or when they first heard them. At this point, they have heard them so often, even on television, that they think they must be true.”

It is indeed a disturbing trend, for whole groups of people to believe something is true just because it is repeated on television again and again. Take, for another example, the widely held belief among Americans that Iraq was a threat to the U.S. and had weapons of mass destruction. One poll taken by the Washington Post showed that as many 70% of Americans actually believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

But let’s get back to the rumors the Times tells us Arabs have come to regard as fact.

“First among these,” the article continues, “is that Jews did not go to work at the World Trade Center on that day. Asked how Jews might have been notified to stay home, or how they kept it a secret from co-workers, people here wave off the questions because they clash with their bedrock conviction that Jews are behind many of their troubles and that Western Jews will go to any length to protect Israel.”

Of course, it is true that it is an urban legend that no Jews went to work at the WTC on September 11. But that myth seems to have sprung from the fact that there were indeed reports that Jews working in the building were warned of the coming attack. One is tempted to dismiss this with the assumption that it is propaganda from Arab media sources. In fact, it was an Israeli paper, Haaretz, that reported that workers at Odigo, an Israeli owned messaging service company with an office four blocks from the WTC, had received warnings that very day of an impending attack.

The Washington Post followed up on the report, saying that officials at Odigo “confirmed today that two employees received text messages warning of an attack on the World Trade Center two hours before terrorists crashed planes into the New York landmarks.” Despite the fact that Odigo said it had the IP address of the sender and was working with the FBI to track down whoever was responsible, to the best of my knowledge it was never reported that they either succeeded or failed in doing so.

Incidentally, Odigo was partnered with another Israeli company called Comverse.

Fox News reported in a series of reports on the uncovering of a massive Israeli spy ring operating in the U.S., saying that “There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared it.” One investigator told Fox News, “Evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified, I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered.”

As many as 60 Israelis were detained on suspicion of their participation in the spy ring. Part of their operation involved supposed “art students” trying to get into the homes of government personnel, including members of the military, the DEA, FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence personnel, under the guise of selling art.

Fox News also revealed that “virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private communications company.” According to Fox News, the National Security Agency (NSA) has warned U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement numerous times about the potential security breaches that this situation could make possible.

Reporter Carl Cameron also noted that Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, had warned the U.S. of a possible attack prior to 9/11, but that the warning “was nonspecific and general, and [investigators] believe that it may have had something to do with the desire to protect what are called sources and methods in the intelligence community; the suspicion being, perhaps those sources and methods were taking place right here in the United States.”

The third report in the series reported on another Israeli company that “provides wiretapping equipment for law enforcement.” The company? Comverse Infosys. But there were fears about the system Comverse provided because “wiretap computer programs made by Comverse have, in effect, a back door through which wiretaps themselves can be intercepted by unauthorized parties. Adding to the suspicions is the fact that in Israel, Comverse works closely with the Israeli government, and under special programs, gets reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade.”

“But,” Cameron added, “investigators with the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying through Comverse is considered career suicide.”

A fourth installment in the series noted that the number of Israeli citizens that had been detained as suspected members of a foreign intelligence operation was nearly 200, and that most of them had been deported. Most “had served in the Israeli military, which is compulsory there. But they also had, most of them, intelligence expertise, and either worked for Amdocs or other companies in Israel that specialize in wiretapping.”

The Jewish newspaper, Forward, reported that “In recent years two reports, one by the Government Accounting Office, the other by the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned against Israeli economic and military espionage activity in the United States. In addition, the FBI conducted an investigation during the late 1990s into alleged Israeli wiretapping of the White House, the State Department and the National Security Council. The investigation ended in May 2000 without any result, according to The New York Times.”

Then there were the reports of the five dancing Israelis who were arrested after behaving suspiciously upon witnessing the burning towers from New Jersey. The five were witnessed by their white van videotaping or taking photos of the smoking buildings and celebrating. The FBI put out an alert on the vehicle after a witness reported its license plate number, which was registered to a company called Urban Moving Systems, an Israeli owned company.

When they were found, the driver told the arresting officers, “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” The suspects’ names came up in a search of the national intelligence database and they were suspected of conducting an intelligence operation. Forward noted that Urban Moving was a “company with few discernable assets that close up shop immediately afterward and whose owner fled to Israel.”

Forward also noted the Israeli “art students” who had been detained on suspicion of espionage, and added that “a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI concluded that at least two” of the Israelis seen celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center “were in fact Mossad operatives”.

Reports such as these naturally fueled any number of conspiracy theories surrounding the events of 9/11. But the fact remains that despite two so-called “investigations” into 9/11, first the Joint Inquiry and then the 9/11 Commission, countless questions remain yet unanswered about just about every facet of the attacks.

Many of the alleged hijackers, to name just one further notable example, have been reported by reputable news agencies, such as the BBC, as being alive and well.

The New York Times article continues: “Americans might better understand the region, experts here said, if they simply listen to what people are saying – and try to understand why – rather than taking offense. The broad view here is that even before Sept. 11, the United States was not a fair broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that it capitalized on the attacks to buttress Israel and undermine the Muslim Arab world.

“The single greatest proof, in most people’s eyes, was the invasion of Iraq. Trying to convince people here that it was not a quest for oil or a war on Muslims is like convincing many Americans that it was, and that the 9/11 attacks were the first step.”

“There are Arabs who hate America, a lot of them, but this is too much,” Hisham Abbas, a student at Cairo University told the Times. “And look at what happened after this – the Americans invaded two Muslim countries. They used 9/11 as an excuse and went to Iraq.”

Of course, under the prevailing assumption that defines the framework for the article, such ideas, though perhaps “conventional wisdom” in the Middle East, should be considered merely “rumors”.

The conventional wisdom, on the other hand, that the U.S. is fighting a “campaign against terrorism”, is accepted by the Times without question – it is simply an article of faith. Yet the conventional wisdom shared by the Times that there is no truth to the “rumors” that many people in the Middle East believe is belied by the facts. In many cases, there are elements of truth behind the myths that deserve our attention and demand answers to the reasonable questions they precipitate.

Americans would do well to take the above advice, given by experts in the Middle East and relayed to us through the New York Times, into consideration; to try to listen to what people in the Middle East are saying, and to understand.

If we ever truly wish to engage in a campaign against terrorism, that would be an elementary first step and a worthy alternative to spreading even more violence.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

FBI did not analyze anthrax from biodefense lab

By Dan Vergano and Steve Sternberg

The FBI never examined anthrax samples from the 2001 contamination of a biodefense lab that was covered up by their lead suspect in the anthrax mailings — a decision that one of the FBI's leading anthrax experts calls "weird."

Researcher Bruce Ivins in 2002 confessed to cleaning up the office contamination without telling anyone during an Army investigation at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. Ivins became a suspect in 2005 in the mailings that killed five and sickened 17.

FBI investigators have not yet analyzed the genetic fingerprints of 25 anthrax samples supplied from the lab contamination investigation, says Vahid Majidi of the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.

"They're still in my lab," says Paul Keim, a microbiologist at Northern Arizona University. Keim called the FBI's decision not to examine the contamination samples "weird" given the intensity of investigators' focus on biodefense researchers, which included polygraphs of Army institute researchers.

Keim, until June, retained duplicates of the FBI's repository of 1,070 anthrax samples collected from researchers worldwide after the mailbox attacks. Genetic fingerprints of those repository samples eliminated suspects other than Ivins by 2007, says FBI lab director Chris Hassell.

The investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings has drawn harsh reviews from critics in recent Senate and House hearings, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who questioned whether one person could have carried out the attacks. The Justice Department publicly named Ivins, 62, as their lead suspect in the attacks in August, days after his suicide.

Ivins' attorney, Paul Kemp, says his client was innocent and suggested many researchers had access to the anthrax identified by genetic fingerprints.

Before landing on the FBI's radar, Ivins emerged as the central figure in the separate investigation of anthrax contamination at Fort Detrick, where he confessed to cleaning up spilled anthrax in his office without telling superiors. "I had no desire to cry wolf," Ivins told an Army investigator at the time. The Army's investigation found samples of the type of anthrax used in the letter attacks on Ivins' desk and elsewhere in his office, according to a report May 9, 2002.

"Why didn't (the FBI) analyze it? One presumes this was pretty relevant evidence," says biodefense analyst Michael Stebbins of the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., who was not part of the investigation. "It raises questions about systematic errors in the FBI investigation."

Majidi, an FBI scientist involved in the investigation, says the bureau viewed the 2002 contamination investigation as an Army matter. As a result, he says, the FBI never submitted samples from Ivins' office for the detailed genetic analysis that later tied a flask in his laboratory to the anthrax used in the attacks.

"I don't know" why the FBI never analyzed the 2002 anthrax in Ivins' office, says Debbie Weierman of the FBI's Washington Field Office. "Suspicion on him was immense, if you look at this in hindsight."

For Keim, the revelation in August that the FBI had shifted its focus to Ivins cast the omission in a new light. In 2002, he says, "I got the samples and thought, 'What a sloppy place.' But I'm starting to think Bruce was taking anthrax out of his lab and then covering his tracks."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Joseph Rosetti - A Human Diagram of 9/11 Connections

Stamford Advocate

... Joseph Rosetti, president of SafirRosetti [About SafirRosetti - "Founded in 2001, SafirRosetti is a leading security, investigative and intelligence firm. ... The company is led by former New York City Police Commissioner and New York City Fire Commissioner Howard Safir in 1999, towards the end of his tenure as Police Commissioner, Safir engineered lucrative no bid contacts for the NYPD's DNA analysis program with The Bode Technology Group Inc., a company with which he had financial ties?" ... "When Safir resigned as Police Comissioner in August 2000, he went to work for ChoicePoint Inc., which was the parent company of The Bode Technology Group. In March 2007, GlobalOptions Group, Inc. acquired The Bode Technology Group from ChoicePoint in a cash purchase for $12.5 million. Guess who is now an executive with Global Options Group who is in charge of overseeing the Bode organization? You guessed it... Giuliani's crony, Howard Safir!" Howard Safir was appointed 39th Police Commissioner of New York City by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani on April 15, 1996.], has become a new member of the firm Norwalk-based Splinternet Holdings Inc.'s board of advisers.

Splinternet Holdings is an intelligent threat awareness technology firm that develops and markets sensor management, monitoring and messaging systems.

Rosetti previously was vice chairman of Kroll Associates (a subsidiary of AIG Insurance ["BEAR STEARNS, BUFFETT'S AIG & PRE-9/11 PUT OPTIONS: " ... Bear Stearns, which is now broke, was linked to [Warren Buffett's] American Insurance Group (AIG) and PRE 9/11 put options placed on the New York and Chicago financial exchanges 72 hours before the September 11th attacks. ... "]), responsible for corporate security and crisis management. From 1971 to 1987, he had worldwide responsibility for IBM security programs and was responsible for Department of Defense Security as it related to IBM ["Based on my reading of what Framework does, it maps all of the devices, files, programs, servers, etc. on a mainframe system - giving a 'Window on the World' so to speak. In order for this program to work from a PC from an external device, it means that the software must actually be IBM software that runs at system level authority, it would have to exploit a back door in IBM's communications controllers and/or operating system - otherwise you couldn't build an enterprise architecture map and the system security would prevent you from running it without the proper authorities. Since IBM was PTECH's business partner in this, there is no doubt in my mind that PTECH was actually just front-end interface. It was a company that was set up by design to be thrown to the wolves if the scam was exposed."] He has served as an IBM security director and was a vice chairman of the Secretary of State's Overseas Security Advisory Council.

Rosetti additionally served as the northeast director for the Law Enforcement
Assistance Administration
of the U.S. Department of Justice (in the 1970s, a CIA liaison and financial conduit to police departments across the country, disbanded in 1983). He also was a special agent, group supervisor and special assistant to the Assistant Commissioner for Compliance in the Intelligence Division, U.S. Treasury Department.
" ... Prior to joining the U.S. Government, Rosetti was Chief Accountant for Marriott. ... " (Marriott and Carlyle are interlocked: Stephen Norris - a co-founder Carlyle Group - is from Marriott, Inc. ["Mr. Norris was involved in the decision-making process in essentially every major Carlyle investment decision from its beginning as a $105 million fund. ... He was actively involved in recruiting all of Carlyle's current senior partners and played a major role in recruiting President George W. Bush to serve as a director of one of its portfolio companies and in enlisting former Secretary of State James Baker III and former Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci to be senior partners of Carlyle.] So is another Carlyle co-founder, Dan D’Aniello. Then there was J. W. Marriott himself - chairman of Marriott Corp." "The influence of Marriott on Carlyle was a pervasive force, and his former employees still utter his name with the highest respect." Fred Malek, currently presidential candidate John McCain's deputy financial manager, is a former Marriott VP and Carlyle director.)

See: "Farenheit 9/11"
" ... Mr. Rosetti holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Pennsylvania Military College (Widener University) and a Master's Degree in Accounting from Southeastern University. He is a National Institute of Public Affairs Fellow from the University of Southern California. He has taught and lectured at numerous universities.

He was a Corporate Director of Kroll Associates Inc., Alpine Lace Inc., and GVI Security Solutions, Inc. (GVI is a division of GE.)

- Alex Constantine

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leahy: Others Involved in Anthrax Attacks

Senator Tells FBI Director He Is Convinced Army Scientist Bruce Ivins Not Sole Offender


ABC News
Sept. 17, 2008

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy told FBI Director Robert Mueller during testimony before his committee that he did not believe Army scientist Bruce Ivins acted alone in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

"I believe there are others involved, either as accessories before or accessories after the fact," said the Vermont Democrat who received an anthrax-tainted letter. "I believe that there are others out there. I believe there are others who could be charged with murder."

Mueller had testified earlier that, after reviewing the case file, he was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Ivins was the sole actor in the anthrax mailings that killed five people and sickened others.

"We have looked at every lead and followed every lead to determine whether anybody else was involved, and we will continue to do so," Mueller told Leahy.

During the last two days of testimony, Mueller asserted that the FBI's case against Ivins was solid. Ivins committed suicide in July, and the FBI and Justice Department have released numerous documents relating to the case that suggest Ivins was the anthrax attacker.

A key part of the case rests on the scientific comparison of anthrax Ivins used and anthrax that was mailed. The FBI also has released information that shows Ivins spent numerous hours alone in one of the biohazard suites at Fort Detrick in the months and days before the anthrax mailings.

Mueller has said the FBI will work with the National Academy of Science to have an independent review on the case.

When Leahy asked whether anthrax was produced at other locations besides defense contractor Battelle Ohio and at the military's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, Mueller confirmed that there were 15 labs in the United States and three overseas that had the ability to produce the Ames strain.

"It should be a concern of all Americans that biological weapons were used on the Congress and the American people," Leahy said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also pushed for the FBI to release more information on the investigation, noting, "Given all the time and money sunk into this investigation, I believe the American people deserve more than just a press conference and a few briefings."

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who's "Fringe?" - Less Than Half the World Believes Al Qaeda Was Behind 9/11 Attacks

Less Than Half the World Believes Al Qaeda Was Behind 9/11 Attacks
SahilOnline, India
16 September 2008:

A poll of 16,000 people in 17 countries reveals the damage done to the credibility of the United States by the Bush administration.

An international poll released this week by the Project on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that outside the United States, many are skeptical that al Qaeda was really responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sixteen thousand people in 17 countries -- allies and adversaries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East -- were asked the open-ended question: "Who do you think was behind the 9/11 attacks?"

On average, fewer than half of all respondents said al Qaeda (although there was significant variation between countries and regions). Fifteen percent said the United States government itself was responsible for the attacks, 7 percent cited Israel, and fully 1 in 4 said they just didn't know.

Among our closest allies, very slim majorities believe al Qaeda was the culprit. According to the study, "Fifty-six percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans cite al Qaeda. However, significant portions of Britons (26%), French (23%), and Italians (21%) say they do not know who was behind 9/11. Remarkably, 23 percent of Germans cite the U.S. government, as do 15 percent of Italians."

Whatever one thinks of "alternative" theories of who the perpetrators were that day, the results are an eye-opening indication of how profoundly the world's confidence in the United States government has eroded during the Bush era. The researchers found little difference among respondents according to levels of education, or to the amount of exposure to the news media they had. Rather, they found a clear correlation with people's attitudes toward the United States in general. "Those with a positive view of America's influence in the world are more likely to cite al Qaeda (on average 59%) than those with a negative view (40%)," wrote the authors. "Those with a positive view of the United States are also less likely to blame the U.S. government (7%) than those with a negative view (22%)."

Interestingly, Americans are also dubious, with more than a third of those polled by Scripps Howard News Service in 2006 saying it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that "federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them" because they "wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East." The poll didn't, however, distinguish between those who believed the government actively participated in the events of that day or merely had foreknowledge that the attacks were imminent. (Another poll that year, by CBS News and the New York Times, found that fewer than 1 in 5 Americans believed the government was being fully forthcoming about the attacks.)

In one sense, these findings should come as no surprise. America, like other countries, has been known to conduct "false-flag" operations before. And it has used falsehoods to justify going to war. In the now-infamous "Gulf of Tonkin Incident" -- the incident that would be used to justify America's involvement in that conflict -- a minor skirmish occurred between U.S. naval ships and two North Vietnamese coastal vessels. Two days later, the Johnson administration reported that there had been a second attack, which it claimed was evidence of "communist aggression" on the part of the North Vietnamese. But, as a National Security Agency report revealed in 2005 (PDF), the second incident -- the one that created a "pattern" of aggression -- was invented out of whole cloth. "It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night," reads the report.

In 1990, on the eve of the first Gulf War, Pentagon officials cited top-secret satellite images and said definitively that Saddam Hussein had amassed a huge army -- with 250,000 men and 1,500 tanks -- along the Saudi border in preparation for an invasion of that country. Jean Heller, a reporter with the St. Petersburg Times, purchased some Russian satellite images of the same piece of desert and found that in fact there was nothing there but sand. After the U.S.-led attack, a "senior (U.S. military) commander" told New York Newsday, "There was a great disinformation campaign surrounding this war."

Those incidents are in no way analogous to the attacks of 9/11. But in 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that the CIA might launch a series of terror attacks within the United States, blame Cuba, and use the ensuing panic to justify military action against the defiant island-nation. (The plan, called "Operation Northwoods," which became public in 1997, was reportedly killed off by John F. Kennedy himself -- it got that far up the food chain.)

Yet, whatever the historical context, there can be little doubt that the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy and well-documented dishonesty fuels the debate over who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11. Earlier this year, an independent study conducted by the Center for Public Integrity documented 935 lies mouthed by senior administration officials to gin up support for the invasion of Iraq (one of which was Donald Rumsfeld repeating the long-disproved claim that Saddam had amassed a huge army on the Saudi border in 1990).

Just the fact that the administration blamed a group in Afghanistan for the attacks and then invaded a different country -- with some of the world's richest oil reserves -- would have been enough to create suspicion around the world. And no satisfactory explanation has ever been given for why the Bush administration didn't step up airline security in the face of repeated warnings -- some quite specific in terms of time and place -- from foreign governments and their intelligence agencies, warnings from allies like Israel's Mossad to "enemies" like the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The credibility gap that has developed around the world's pre-eminent power is more than a matter of academic interest. Around the world, many of those who embraced us immediately after 9/11 and offered almost unconditional support for our policies now don't believe a word coming out of our officials' mouths, and that affects U.S. foreign policy, and the stability of the whole international system, in ways both obvious and subtle.

A good, obvious example is Pakistan, where most Americans believe we're allied with the government and a majority of the Pakistani people against a small group of Al Qaeda extremists who are undermining the U.S.-led battle against their terrorist brethren in Afghanistan (where we are allied with that government and most of that country's people). American politicians expend much hot air accusing the Pakistani government of "not doing enough to rein in extremists" in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

But as Princeton scholar Zia Mian wrote in July, "most damaging of all for the United States is that people in Pakistan overwhelmingly see the United States as the problem." Mian cited a poll (PDF) conducted in May by the Pakistan Institute for Public Opinion, which found that "60 percent of Pakistanis believe the U.S. 'war on terror' seeks to weaken the Muslim world, and 15 percent think its goal is to 'ensure U.S. domination over Pakistan.'"

About a third had a positive view of al Qaeda, twice as many as the number that viewed the United States in a positive light. Mian touched on what is probably the key finding in the study -- and one that speaks to our officials' utter lack of credibility when they say that they're fighting "extremism" or "terrorists." The poll found that "44 percent of Pakistanis believe the United States is the greatest threat to their personal safety ... (while) the Pakistani Taliban, who ... by some estimates have up to 40,000 fighters, are seen as a threat by less than 10 percent. Al Qaeda barely registers as a threat, slightly surpassing Pakistan's own military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI)."

With almost half of the population saying the United States is the greatest threat to their own personal safety, any Pakistani government will be left between a rock and a hard place. In that part of the planet, the real-world consequence of our government's credibility gap is that the cooperation Washington seeks from Islamabad -- both internally and with neighboring Afghanistan -- can only result in destabilizing an already unstable political scene.

Around the world, the United States is at the nadir of its post-World War II influence. Among foreign governments and publics, in international institutions and commercial markets, our ideologies haven't had less power to sway people than they do today. We've never had less "soft power;" hard power doesn't come cheaply or without unintended consequences, and there's no guarantee that the Iron Fist can ever be put back into the Velvet Glove now that it's been exposed.

The fact that fewer than half of the world's citizens believe we were really attacked by al Qaeda seven years ago is merely a reflection of far deeper problems that our foreign policy makers are going to have to try to face in the coming years. That's Bush's foreign policy legacy.

All of which brings us to what historians will probably consider the great irony of the decline of the brief U.S.-led mono-polar order that existed between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the second Gulf War:

The neoconservative movement, which was so obsessed with the preservation of American power and the suppression of its rivals -- from its birth in the Nixon administration, through Reagan's "Dirty Wars" in Latin America and culminating in the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- ultimately oversaw the crash and burn of the World's Only Superpower's ability to influence world events.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Russian TV Teaches “9/11 Truth”
September 16th, 2008

On Friday, Russian State television aired an Italian documentary that questioned the official version of what happened on September 11th, 2001. Boris Sokolov questions the channel’s motives, asking why it chose to screen a one-sided film to 30 million viewers during prime time. The film, titled, “Zero: an investigation into 9/11” was followed by a panel discussion with journalists, who accepted and built on its fundamental premise, that the terrorist attack was an inside job.

The screening follows a recent tradition of airing one-sided “documentaries” that voice conspiracy theories and put Russia at oThe Other Russia › Edit — WordPressdds with the West. Films recently broadcast on Russian state television have asserted that the West was responsible for democratic “color revolutions” in former Soviet countries and that the West was behind Russia’s war in Chechnya.

The article below first ran on the independent online newspaper.

An Open Order
Boris Sokolov

“Zero: an investigation into 9/11,” a film by Italian journalist Giulietta Chiesa and his French colleague Thierry Meyssan, went practically unnoticed in the world. Its authors openly complained about this as they spoke on Channel One, hinting at machinations by America’s intelligence agencies. In Russia, on the other hand, the film was shown on TV on Friday evening, during prime-time – on the “Private Screening” program, which gave it an audience of many millions. In and of itself, this proves that the Cold War is in full swing, at least on Russian television. Mr. Chiesa laments that “the level of democracy in the world is very low. And with every year, it becomes lower and lower.” And that’s why the Italian departed for Russia in search of genuine democracy.

Chiesa and Meyssan’s basic thesis is that the September 11th terrorist attacks were organized by the Americans themselves, in order to justify limitations on democratic freedoms in America and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, and in order to stave off a crisis in the American economy. Almost all the participants in the discussion readily agreed with them. The debates only centered on who in particular among the Americans was behind the terrorist acts. Some insisted that it was the multi-national corporations and intelligence agencies, carrying out imperial designs, with the involvement of individuals within the administration, but not the highest ranks –not the President and not the Secretary of State. This resembled Soviet times, when all the problems in the world were blamed on American imperialists, presented as anonymous monopolies and equally anonymous senior officials in the CIA and the Pentagon. Presidents and Secretaries of State shouldn’t be directly offended, since negotiations have to be led with them. The second version consisted of the idea that President Bush was directly involved in the conspiracy behind September 11th. Well, I guess this shows the relative freedom of speech as compared with the communist era, and moreover, everyone knows that Bush is working his last months in the White House.

The film’s authors call on Dario Fo (presented in the credits as a Nobel laureate), as a leading expert of the explosions on September 11th. The overwhelming majority of Russian viewers will remain convinced that there is a distinguished scholar before them, who has knowledge about airplanes, explosions and fires. In actual fact, Dario Fo is an Italian playwright, who received a Nobel prize for literature in 1997 for “emulat[ing] the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.” He appears before us as a descendant of jesters as well.

From a professional point of view, the film is made extremely primitively. It is based almost exclusively on “talking heads,” and presents only those witnesses and experts who criticize the official version, that the terrorist attacks were organized by Al-Qaeda, led by [Osama] bin Laden (several of them look to be mentally unbalanced). Along those same lines are the endless, mesmerizing repetitions of captions with the author’s theses. Testimony and evidence from adherents of the official version is not mentioned in any way in the film. This is roughly like taking only the testimonies showing the innocence of the defendants during the Nuremberg trial, and ignoring all the materials in the extensive file documenting their guilt.

It is interesting that both the film’s authors and the participants of the discussion [that followed], having spoken out against American globalism and defended the dignity of the downtrodden peoples, demonstrate a barefaced contempt to these same peoples. The theme of the discussion sounded like this: “How could these 19 arabs do something like this? They couldn’t even learn to operate a plane!” True, the main question then remains unanswered – who was at the helm of the planes that crashed into the twin-towers. Could it be true that CIA agents turned from through-and-through WASPs into fanatic-suicide bombers? Here, to Chiesa and Meyssan’s assistance came Geidar Dzhemal, a homegrown Islamist-conspiracy theorist, who proposes that the planes were controlled from the ground by expert hackers, who changed the autopilot program on the killing-planes. No one bothered to refute this delusion.

The films authors, and the organizers of the discussion sought to convince viewers that two realities are competing on equal terms in the world: the official and alternative versions of the events of September 11th. Proponents of both versions, they say, have their own arguments, and even in the hard science field, experts at times have directly opposite opinions. Therefore, they say, the choice between them is a matter of faith. The discussion moderator, Alexander Gordon, tried at the start to play to objectivity and the cooperative search for truth, but by the end, confessed frankly that he had long ago come to a firm conclusion that the American establishment was behind the September 11th tragedy, just like the other terrorist acts on US territory.

Proponents of the official version were chosen essentially from obedient sparring-partners, whose arguments amounted to saying that Chiesa and Meyssan’s version could not be truth simply because this would be intolerable from a ethical point of view: after all, if would imply that the US leadership would kill their own citizens for political gains. But here, director Vladimir Khotinenko, political analyst Vitaly Tretyakov, and other adherents of the American conspiracy theory immediately took the floor, assuring the viewers that for the American authorities to kill even thousands, even millions, was as easy as batting an eye.

Mr. Tretyakov put forth the thesis that the answer to the question of who profited from the September 11th terrorist attacks clearly pointed to the American government. The majority of the audience backed him enthusiastically. But no one did clarify what exactly the American advantage was. Maybe it was the need to hold a significant contingent of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come? Or high oil prices, affecting the American economy in far from the best manner? If they really had some desire to figure out the reasons for the tragedy from the “who profited” principle, it would have been more logical to note that for Russia, the growth in energy prices which started after September 11th turned into a golden rain of petrodollars and the opportunity to demonstrate its solidarity with the US in the fight with international terrorism. Which for many years created the illusion of Russian-American partnership in the world. But we didn’t hear this kind of discussion.

Chiesa, Meyssan and their adherents propose the following circumstance as the main argument favoring their version of events. After September 11, 2001, there were no more terrorist attacks in the US. Which means that the American intelligence agencies were accessorial to the terrorist acts, while terrorists, Islamic or otherwise, do not have a real opportunity to perform such massive terrorist acts on American territory. But, following this absurd logic, one must come the following conclusions. Since there haven’t been any explosions of buildings in Moscow since September 1999, it means, that they were organized by the Russian intelligence agencies. Since after the “Nord-Ost” [theater siege] and Beslan [school takeover], there haven’t been any new seizures of hundreds of hostages, it means that those terrorist acts were also an inside job by the FSB.

At the end, the discussion smoothly turned to the present Russian-Georgian conflict. It was not in vain that President Medvedev recently said that for Russia, August 8th (the start of the war with Georgia) –was almost like September 11th for the US. Naturally, the assertions poured out, that the notion of Russian aggression against Georgia, spread through the Western world, was the results of the same kind of propaganda as the official version of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, the US, with Georgia’s help, in truth wants to engineer a new cold war, to solve its domestic and foreign problems. As result, the discussion closed with a hysterical call from one of the film’s authors, for Russia to defend the world from the American predators who are tearing the planet to pieces. A plea most insincere.

translation by“911-truth”/


By Alex Constantine

Abdul Rahman Yasin and Nidal Ayyad were co-defendents in the 1993 bombing of the World Trace Center. When he met Ramzi Yousef - who has in common with 911 terrorist Mohammed Atta ties to Pakistan's ISI and, as we shall see, they all have a significant German connection - Ayyad was employed by Allied Signal, Inc. in New Jersey - an intelligence front.

The following excerpts relate the story of their involvement in the plot and necessary background indicating state sponsorship of terrorism:

... A few days after arriving at JFK with Ajaj, Yousef made contact with Sheik Rahman's followers. He met up with two men who had trained at the rifle range on Long Island in 1989, Abouhalima and Salameh. [Ramzi] Yousef moved into a Jersey City apartment with Salameh.... Abdul Yasin, an American-born engineering student of Iraqi descent, and Nidal Ayyad, a Kuwaiti-born naturalized American citizen, who had studied chemical engineering and worked at ALLIED SIGNAL in Morristown, N.J. In addition to opening bank accounts with more than $16,000, the men began trying to order chemicals, with varying success. By early February, Yousef asked Eyad Ismoil, a childhood friend who lived in Dallas, to fly to New York to help, prosecutors claimed in the trial.
August Term, 1997
(Argued: December 18 & 19, 1997 Decided: August 04, 1998 )
Docket Nos. 94-1312, -1313, -1314, -1315
MOHAMMED A. SALAMEH, NIDAL AYYAD, MAHMOUD ABOUHALIMA, also known as Mahmoud Abu Halima, AHMAD MOHAMMAD AJAJ, also known as Khurram Khan, Defendants-Appellants, RAMZI AHMED YOUSEF, BILAL ALKAISI, also known as Bilal Elqisi, ABDUL RAHMAN YASIN, also known as Aboud, Defendants.

... Once in New York, Yousef assembled a team of trusted criminal associates, including Mohammed Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Mahmoud Abouhalima and Abdul Rahman Yasin. Together, the conspirators implemented the bombing plot that Ajaj and Yousef had hatched overseas. Ayyad and Salameh opened a joint bank account into which they deposited funds to finance the bombing plot.

Some of that money was later used by Salameh to rent a storage shed in
Jersey City, New Jersey, where the conspirators stored chemicals for making
explosives. Yousef also drew on that account to pay for materials described
in Ajaj's manuals as ingredients for bomb making.

The first target of the conspirators' plot was the World Trade Center. Ayyad
used his position as an engineer at ALLIED SIGNAL, a large New Jersey
chemical company, to order the necessary chemical ingredients for bomb
making, and to order hydrogen tanks from ALG Welding Company that would enhance the bomb's destructive force. Abouhalima obtained "smokeless powder," which the conspirators used to make explosives. Smokeless powder, and all the other chemicals procured by the conspirators for the bomb, were stored in the shed rented by Salameh....

What was so special about 1974?
Thursday, 18 April 2002, 10:44 am
Article: Linda Minor

The pilot who flew Ambassador Joseph Davies to Moscow was a Californian
named Robert W. Prescott, who founded the Flying Tiger Line in 1945.... In
November, 1944 Prescott had met with a group of Los Angeles businessmen in Acapulco, including one of [Edwin] Pauley's fellow UC Berkeley regents,
Samuel B. Mosher, who wanted to establish an air freight line along the U.S.
and Mexican west coast, to be called Aero-Azteca. The investors included
Signal Oil Company [predecessor of Allied Signal]. They agreed to form a
syndicate, with Mosher's group matching whatever Prescott could raise.

Prescott found 14 Navy surplus cargo aircraft from the War Assets Administration and collected cash from friends from the American Volunteer
Pilots unit (AVP) who had flown with him in China. This group of American
civilians who fought with Chiang Kai-Shek in China before the U.S. entered
the war (all of whom received the same commendation Cloud and Banner award given to Pug Winokur's father during his war service) had an important role in the setting up what William Casey would later call an "off-the-shelf" method of financing covert operations for the CIA and other black operations not disclosed to Congress.

The airline was initially called National Skyways Freight Corporation and
included General Claire Chennault and others. In 1946 Chennault invited the
men to go back to China to work for him at Civil Air Transport, which he was in the process of founding. By 1970 Nixon's attorney Herbert Kalmbach
claimed to be representing the Flying Tiger Line, which merged with Seaboard World Airlines in 1980 and into Federal Express in 1989. In the beginning the California airline transported mostly foodstuffs but in late 1946 was awarded its first military contract with Army Air Transport Command--two flights daily to Tokyo and to Honolulu for a total of 1.2 million miles per month. The flights were to leave from San Francisco Fairfield Air Base, but the company remained based at Lockheed in Burbank.

In Mosher's 1954 Who's Who listing his home address was given as 10401
Wilshire, located just west of the Los Angeles country club and one mile
east of the office building David Murdock constructed across the street from
the Occidental Petroleum Co. The close proximity is very intriguing, considering the fact that in 1966, the year George Bush left Zapata,
Mosher's Signal Oil sold its European refining and marketing arms to
Occidental, after Armand Hammer obtained a concession from Libya's King
Idris, who would later be replaced by Quaddafi. Mosher's office address in
1954 was given as 811 W. 7th in Los Angeles. This is just over five miles
from Pauley's Bandini office. AtlanticRichfield's 12-story office building
in Los Angeles was at the corner of 6th and Flower, a mere two blocks from
Mosher's location. In 1954 Mosher was also serving as vice president and
director for American Independent Oil Co. (whose president was Ralph K.
Davies), and as director of the Southwest Exploration Co. and the American
President Lines, as well as numerous oil and gas associations.

Blast Suspects Got German Cash
By Sara Fritz and Robert L. Jackson
Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK - The men suspected of exploding a bomb underneath the World Trade Center received tens of thousands of dollars from a bank account in Germany, giving credence to the theory that it may have been the act of a
sophisticated international terrorist organization, authorities said Thursday.

Officials still have not determined the precise amount of money transferred
to the suspects or the identity of the benefactors. Furthermore, they said
they believed that the total amounted to less than $100,000 -- a relatively
small sum in comparison to the money a well-funded international terrorist
group could afford to spend. And they acknowledged they had no proof the
money was spent in connection with the bombing.

Nonetheless, as authorities followed the widening money trail, sources said
they were more inclined to suport the view publicly expressed by FBI
Assistant Director James Fox that the Feb. 26 bombing was "organized by a
large, well-know terrorist group."

Although the money received by the suspects was wired from a bank in
Germany, investigators said they suspect the funds actually originated
elsewhere -- possibly Iran or Iraq. In Egypt, according to a knowledgeable
source, followers of an Egyptian cleric whose New Jersey mosque has figured
in the bombing case are known to be funded with Iranian money funneled
through Sudan....

The money was wired to accounts at the National Westminister Bank branch in Jersey City, N.J., just a few blocks from the mosque where Omar's followers -- including at least two of the men arrested in the case -- worshipped.

The two principle suspects, Mohammed A. Salameh and Nidal A. Ayyad, held a joint account at the Jersey City bank that received some of the money from
Germany. In addition, money from the same foreign source also was placed in individual accounts belonging to the men.

On Wednesday, investigators underestimated how much money the suspects had received from abroad because they were only aware of only the single joint account at the time.

Even though the suspects received tens of thousands of dollars, each individual deposit was less than $10,000, sources said. Under federal law,
American banks handling transactions of $10,000 or more must report them to the Treasury Department, often prompting money launderers and criminals to break large transfers into smaller amounts.

The transactions provide the first publicly available evidence that those
responsible for the bombing may not have been hapless amateurs, as they have sometimes been portrayed...

Ayyad, who was arrested Wednesday, holds a college degree in chemical
engineering and was employed as a research engineer at the AlliedSignal
Corp. in Morristown, N.J. Authorities said Salameh telephone Ayyad at least
four times at his office on the day before the bombing, apparently seeking
advice on how to mix the chemicals.


Yousef's terrorist motivations were not those of a militant Muslim
fundamentalist, according to Reeve, who describes him as an "evil genius."
He seems to have been a playboy, a sadist and someone with a mammoth ego (which proved to be his undoing, as he could have hidden out in the tribal areas of Pakistan undiscovered by the authorities.) Reeve alleges that individuals within Pakistan's ISI may have provided him with the documents that enabled him to enter the United States....

"Terrorism" and Blowback

Part Three: "Terrorism," Blowback and US Foreign Policy during the Clinton Years

... Information gleaned from Salameh's pockets, his residence, and the
storage facility where the bomb had been prepared led to the arrests of
Ahmad Ajaj, Palestinian chemist Nidal Ayyad and Mahmud Abouhalima. (The
latter was extradited from Egypt where he had been viciously tortured
because of his connections with militants who were attacking Egyptian
installations.) Their trial began in September and on May 24, 1994 the four
were convicted of conspiracy to commit terrorism and sentenced to 240 years in prison and sent to the top-security US penitentiary in Lewisburg,

Missing from the courtroom were ABDUL YASIN who had fled to Iraq...
FBI Let Suspected Terrorist Get Away
Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON -- A suspected bomber on President Bush's new list of "most
wanted" terrorists was in the FBI's grasp eight years ago for allegedly
playing a role in the first attack on the World Trade Center, but he was
released and then allowed to leave the country, authorities acknowledged

Abdul Rahman Yasin, 41, is one of the 22 accused terrorists identified by
Bush on Wednesday as murderous extremists wanted by the U.S., whom
authorities will aggressively pursue to bring to justice.

The FBI questioned Yasin at length soon after the February 1993 bomb blast
at the trade center, which killed six people and injured 1,000. They asked
about his sharing of apartments in Jersey City, N.J., with others who were
later indicted and convicted in the bombing, and about how explosive
chemicals got on one apartment's walls and may have caused a burn mark found on his thigh.

FBI agents also questioned Yasin about his association with Ramzi Ahmed
Yousef, the man later convicted of masterminding the plot, according to law
enforcement authorities and Stephen Somerstein, Yasin's lawyer.

"He . . . went in quite voluntarily, spoke at length to the FBI and went
home," Somerstein said Thursday. "And the FBI appeared to be satisfied with
that. They let him walk out the door."

A week after the bombing, on March 5, 1993, Yasin flew to Amman, Jordan,
while other co-conspirators flew to Jordan, Saudia Arabia and Pakistan. He
was indicted that August for his role in the bombing.

Officials at the Justice Department and the FBI declined comment.

Secrecy & Government Bulletin
July 1996

... Examining the FEC filings of key members of the Congressional intelligence committees, one finds them littered with donations from intelligence contractors or their representatives such as the Lockheed Martin Employees Political Action Committee (PAC), the Allied-Signal PAC and, delightfully, the TRW Good Government Fund.

"The amounts of money thrust at members of Congress by such contractors are limited (by law), typically involving no more than a few thousand dollars. It is doubtful that such paltry sums could actually buy votes. What they can buy, however, is access to the policy and budget process, in which industry is heavily represented. Not only are contractor CEOs regularly called upon to testify before the intelligence committees (unlike, dare one say, public interest groups), but contractor lobbyists have essentially unfettered access to lobby for secret programs without fear of contradiction or outside criticism. ... "

The FEC database did not reveal any donations to Congress from advocates of improved public accountability or intelligence budget declassification. ...
Saddam's desperate offers to stave off war

Julian Borger in Washington, Brian Whitaker and Vikram Dodd
Friday November 7, 2003
The Guardian


... According to the Knight-Ridder news agency, the Iraqis sought a direct
route to the Washington hawks in February. They found a Lebanese-American businessman, IMAD ED-HAGE, who boasted he had a direct line to the Pentagon.

Mr Hage told yesterday's New York Times that he was initially approached by
General Habbush's chief of foreign intelligence operations, who turned up in
Mr Hage's Beirut office and promptly collapsed, apparently from stress.

When Mr Obeidi recovered, he urged Mr Hage to tell his Washington contacts Iraq was ready to talk about anything, including oil concessions, the Middle East peace process, and banned weapons. The Iraqi official said the "Americans could send 2,000 FBI agents to look wherever they wanted",
according to Mr Hage.

A week later Mr Hage travelled to Baghdad and talked to Gen Habbush himself.

The general repeated the invitation to allow Americans to search for weapons and added an offer to hand over a suspected terrorist, ABDUL RAHMAN YASIN, who had been convicted in the US for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre. The regime would hold elections within two years, and the intelligence chief even offered to fly to London to discuss the issue in person.

Mr Hage relayed these offers via an intermediary to the Pentagon, but there
was NO OFFICIAL RESPONSE. The Lebanese-American businessman persisted, and arranged a meeting with Mr Perle, a member of the Pentagon's advisory board.

It is understood that Mr Hage and Mr Perle met on March 7 in the lobby of
the Marlborough hotel in Bloomsbury. They then went to an office nearby
where over two hours Mr Hage outlined the Iraqi offer to Mr Perle...

A US intelligence source insisted that the decision not to negotiate came
from the White House ... Mr Perle was travelling in Europe yesterday and
unavailable for comment. However, he told the New York Times he had been
TOLD BY THE CIA not to pursue contacts with the Iraqis....


Sabri, in a 13-page letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to rebut US
Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the Security Council earlier this month, also said Baghdad is offering to hand over to Washington Abdul-Rahman Yasin, a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who is on the FBI's most-wanted list. Sabri's letter, which was posted on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's web site Thursday, denied any link between Iraq and Zarqawi or Ansar, saying both operated in NOTHERN IRAQI areas under the control of Kurdish groups allied to Washington and beyond Baghdad's reach.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mexico, US Find no al-Qaida Links Since 9/11


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico says it has arrested 12 people on terrorism charges in the years since the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S., but an official said none were linked to Muslim extremist groups like al-Qaida nor were any planning to strike in the United States.

Officials from both nations say there hasn't been any sign of the southern U.S. border becoming an entry point for terrorists, as had been feared after the suicide jetliner hijackings that struck New York and Washington.

The Mexican government revealed the 12 arrests to The Associated Press this week in response to a public information request seeking details of any terrorism arrests in the last seven years. The request was made in February.

Many Americans feared Islamic terrorists from al-Qaida might try to slip into the United States by linking up with the criminal gangs and drug cartels that control large swaths of Mexico and smuggle drugs and migrants across the border.

Months after the 2001 attack, President Bush pushed Mexico to increase security. "We need to use our technology to make sure that we weed out those who we don't want in our country, the terrorists, the `coyotes,' the smugglers, those that prey on innocent life," he said.

Asked whether Mexico's 12 terrorism arrests were linked to plots against the United States, an official at the Mexican Attorney General's office said none "had anything to do with that."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn't authorized to be quoted by name, said those detained had links to Basque militants in Spain or were involved in radical domestic activities in Mexico.
Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said Friday the U.S. continually works with Mexico to ensure terrorists don't turn to Mexico and so far there is no evidence that has happened.

"There's no indication that there's been a direct al-Qaida presence in Mexico," he said. "But there certainly have been individuals that present security concerns."

He wouldn't elaborate, but one of the U.S. government's recent worries has been smuggling networks moving East African migrants through Latin America and into the U.S. Two such smugglers operating in Mexico and Belize were arrested last year.

In a speech Wednesday on international terrorism threats, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the biggest threat in Mexico is likely the powerful drug trade, in which gangs target both police and civilians and often behead their enemies.

"These enterprises may currently be criminal enterprises, but we cannot rule out the possibility in the future that they may take on a more political coloration," he said.

The U.S. has dramatically increased border security, adding fencing and border agents and monitoring more closely those who cross at border stations.

Mexico also has become much more vigilant of foreigners entering both legally and illegally. Many people from Muslim countries now have trouble getting visas to visit Mexico, and officials have arrested dozens of Christian Iraqis who fled violence in their homeland and tried to sneak into Southern California through Mexico.

Thomas Sanderson, deputy director of the transnational threats project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said al-Qaida usually sends its members through Europe because, unlike Mexico, citizens of those countries can enter U.S. territory without a visa.

"We are more likely to see people come in through airplanes," he said.

He also doubts al-Qaida operatives would expose themselves to organized crime or smuggling groups in Mexico. "They'd be concerned that their cover or their effort would be exposed. It's unfamiliar territory for them," he said.
Pressed to discuss the 12 peopled arrested, the Mexican official would say only that five were Spaniards linked to the Basque separatist group ETA and that seven were Mexicans detained in domestic cases.

She said the purported ETA members were living in Mexico to help finance the group's operations in the Basque region of northern Spain and were not planning attacks.

The official said some of the seven Mexican suspects were tied to murky domestic militant groups that have planted crude bombs at banks, government offices and oil pipelines across Mexico in recent years.

None of those attacks caused human casualties but several of the pipeline attacks had a big financial impact by interrupting fuel supplies to major industries.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Context for Valerie Plame: The Failure of the CIA's Post-9/11 Front Companies

By Greg Miller
Los Angeles Times
February 17, 2008

After 9/11, the agency spent millions setting up front companies overseas to snag terrorists. Officials now say the bogus firms were ill-conceived and not close enough to Muslim enclaves.

The CIA set up a network of front companies in Europe and elsewhere after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of a constellation of “black stations” for a new generation of spies, according to current and former agency officials.

But after spending hundreds of millions of dollars setting up as many as 12 of the companies, the agency shut down all but two after concluding they were ill-conceived and poorly positioned for gathering intelligence on the CIA’s principal targets: terrorist groups and unconventional weapons proliferation networks.

The closures were a blow to two of the CIA’s most pressing priorities after Sept. 11– expanding its overseas presence and changing the way it deploys spies.

The companies were the centerpiece of an ambitious plan to increase the number of case officers sent overseas under what is known as “nonofficial cover,” meaning they would pose as employees of investment banks, consulting firms or other fictitious enterprises with no apparent ties to the U.S. government.

But the plan became the source of significant dispute within the agency and was plagued with problems, officials said. The bogus companies were located far from Muslim enclaves in Europe and other targets. Their size raised concerns that one mistake would blow the cover of many agents. And because business travelers don’t ordinarily come into contact with Al Qaeda or other high-priority adversaries, officials said, the cover didn’t work.

Summing up what many considered the fatal flaw of the program, one former high-ranking CIA official said, “They were built on the theory of the ‘Field of Dreams’: Build them and the targets will come.”

Officials said the experience reflected an ongoing struggle at the CIA to adapt to a new environment in espionage. The agency has sought to regroup by designing covers that would provide pretexts for spies to get close to radical Muslim groups, nuclear equipment manufacturers and other high-priority targets.

But current and former officials say progress has been painfully slow, and that the agency’s efforts to alter its use of personal and corporate disguises have yet to produce a significant penetration of a terrorist or weapons proliferation network.

“I don’t believe the intelligence community has made the fundamental shift in how it operates to adapt to the different targets that are out there,” said Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

The cover arrangements most commonly employed by the CIA “don’t get you near radical Islam,” Hoekstra said, adding that six years after the Sept. 11 attacks, “We don’t have nearly the kind of penetrations I would have expected against hard targets.”

Whatever their cover, the CIA’s spies are unlikely to single-handedly penetrate terrorist or proliferation groups, officials said. Instead, the agency stalks informants around the edges of such quarry – moderate Muslims troubled by the radical message at their mosques; mercenary shipping companies that might accept illicit nuclear components as cargo; chemists whose colleagues have suspicious contacts with extremist groups.

Agency officials declined to respond to questions about the front companies and the decision to close them.

“Cover is designed to protect the officers and operations that protect America,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said. “The CIA does not, for that very compelling reason, publicly discuss cover in detail.”

But senior CIA officials have publicly acknowledged that the agency has devoted considerable energy to creating new ways for its case officers – the CIA’s term for its overseas spies – to operate under false identities.

“In terms of the collection of intelligence, there has been a great deal of emphasis for us to use nontraditional methods,” CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in November 2006 radio interview shortly after taking the helm at the agency. “For us that means nontraditional platforms – what folks call ‘out of embassy’ platforms – and we’re progressing along those lines.”

The vast majority of the CIA’s spies traditionally have operated under what is known as official cover, meaning they pose as U.S. diplomats or employees of another government agency.

The approach has advantages, including diplomatic immunity, which means that an operative under official cover might get kicked out of a country if he is caught spying, but won’t be imprisoned or executed.

Official cover is also cheaper and easier. Front companies can take a year or more to set up. They require renting office space, having staff to answer phones and paying for cars and other props. They also involve creating fictitious client lists and resumes that can withstand sustained scrutiny.

One of the CIA’s commercial cover platforms was exposed in 2003 when undercover officer Valerie Plame was outed in a newspaper column by Robert Novak. Public records quickly led to the unraveling of the company that served as her cover during overseas trips, a fictitious CIA firm called Brewster Jennings & Associates.

Official cover worked well for the duration of the Cold War, when holding a job at a U.S. Embassy enabled American spies to make contact with Soviet officials and other communist targets.

But many intelligence officials are convinced that embassy posts aren’t useful against a new breed of adversaries. “Terrorists and weapons proliferators aren’t going to be on the diplomatic cocktail circuit,” said one government official familiar with the CIA’s cover operations.

After the terrorist strikes, the Bush administration ordered the agency to expand its overseas operation by 50%. The agency came under intense pressure from Congress to alter its approach to designing cover and got a major boost in funding to expand the nonofficial cover program, which is commonly referred to by the acronym NOC, pronounced “knock.”

Although the agency has used nonofficial cover throughout its history, the newer front companies were designed to operate on a different scale. Rather than setting up one- or two-person consulting firms, the plan called for the creation of a companies that would employ between six and nine case officers apiece, plus support staff.

The NOC program typically had functioned as an elite entity, made up of a small number of carefully selected case officers, some of whom would spend years in training and a decade or more overseas with only intermittent contact with headquarters. But the new plan called for the front companies to serve as way stations even for relatively inexperienced officers, who would be rotated in and out much the way they would in standard embassy assignments.

“The idea was that these were going to be almost like black stations,” said a former CIA official involved in the plan to form the companies. “We were trying to build something that had a life span, that had durability.”

In the process, the agency hoped to break a logjam in getting post-Sept. 11 recruits overseas. Thousands of applicants had rushed to join the CIA after the attacks, and many were sent to Afghanistan and Iraq. But outside of those war zones, open slots were scarce.

“The embassies were full,” said a former CIA official involved in deployment decisions. “We were losing officers by the dozens because we didn’t have slots for them overseas.”

In separate interviews, two former CIA case officers who joined the agency after the attacks said that 15% to 20% of their classmates had quit within a few years. Among them, they said, was one who had earned his master’s in business administration from Harvard University and was fluent in Chinese and another who had left a high-paying job at the investment firm Goldman Sachs.

The front companies were created between 2002 and 2004, officials said, and most were set up to look like consulting firms or other businesses designed to be deliberately bland enough to escape attention.

About half were set up in Europe, officials said – in part to put the agency in better position to track radical Muslim groups there, but also because of the ease of travel and comfortable living conditions. That consideration vexed some CIA veterans.

“How do you let someone have a white-collar lifestyle and be part of the blue-collar terrorist infrastructure?” said one high-ranking official who was critical of the program.

But the plan was to use the companies solely as bases. Case officers were forbidden from conducting operations in the country where their company was located. Instead, they were expected to adopt second and sometimes third aliases before traveling to their targets. The companies, known as platforms, would then remain intact to serve as vessels for the next crop of case officers who would have different targets.

The concept triggered fierce debate within the agency, officials said.

“This was a very bitter fight,” said a CIA official who was a proponent of the plan because it insulated the fictitious firms from the actual work of espionage.

“When you link the cover to the operation, the minute the operation starts getting dicey, you run across the screen of the local police, the local [intelligence service] or even the senior people in the mosque,” the official said. “I saw this kill these platforms repeatedly. The CIA invests millions of dollars and then something goes wrong and it’s gone.”

But critics called the arrangement convoluted, and argued that whatever energy the agency was devoting to the creation of covers should be focused on platforms that could get U.S. spies close to their most important targets.

“How does a businessman contact a terrorist?” said a former CIA official involved in the decision to shut the companies down. “If you’re out there selling widgets, why are you walking around a mosque in Hamburg?”

Rather than random businesses, these officials said, the agency should be creating student aid organizations that work with Muslim students, or financial firms that associate with Arab investors.

Besides broad concerns about the approach, officials said there were other problems with the companies. Some questioned where they were located. One, for example, was set up in Portugal, even though its principal targets were in North Africa.

The issue became so divisive that the agency’s then-director, Porter J. Goss, tapped the official then in charge of the CIA’s European division, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, to lead an in-house review of the NOC strategy.

Mowatt-Larssen sided with critics of the approach and began pulling the plug on the companies before he left the agency to take a senior intelligence post at the Department of Energy, officials said. Mowatt-Larssen declined to comment.

The agency is in the midst of rolling out a series of new platforms that are more narrowly targeted, officials said. The External Operations and Cover Division has been placed under Eric Pound, a veteran foreign officer who was CIA station chief in Athens during the 2004 Olympics.

But the agency is still struggling to overcome obstacles, including resistance from many of the agency’s station chiefs overseas, most of whom rose through the ranks under traditional cover assignments and regard the NOC program with suspicion and distrust.

In one recent case, officials said, the CIA’s station chief in Saudi Arabia vetoed a plan to send a NOC officer who had spent years developing credentials in the nuclear field to an energy conference in Riyadh.

The NOC “had been invited to the conference, had seen a list of invitees and saw a target he had been trying to get to,” said a former CIA official familiar with the matter. “The boss said, ‘No, that’s why we have case officers here.’ ”