Top officials of the George W. Bush and, to a lesser extent, the Clinton administration, stymied a number of coordinated intelligence and law enforcement activities that could have prevented both the 911 attacks and the attack, eleven months before, on the USS Cole.
These subscribers and ardent supporters of the Project for a New American Century’s (PNAC) blueprint for U.S. global domination interfered with covert projects by the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Treasury Department, and National Security Agency (NSA) that could have exposed an international organized criminal cartel that included the 911 hijackers, arms and drug traffickers, and Mafia financiers. According to a number of former CIA, FBI, and DIA officers, the one glaring missing link in the 911 attacks and the USS Cole bombing is the lack of provable involvement by organized Islamist fundamentalists, including the generic bogeyman consistently cited by the PNAC supporters: “Al Qaeda.”
The element that is common to both the Bush II and Clinton administrations is a group of neo-conservatives who signed on to the PNAC dream of “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” to advance their agenda in the same way the German Nazis torched the Reichstag building to advance their agenda. Then the bogeyman of convenience was the Communist Party, today, it is Al Qaeda.
However, much like a submarine “clearing the baffles” by turning 120 degrees to port and starboard to detect trailing enemy subs, the instigators of 911 cleared their own baffles by firing, suspending, and blocking U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agents who were aggressively pursuing the many leads that could have prevented the advancement of the PNAC and the overall neo-conservative agenda. Without 911, there would have been no Patriot Act, no Iraq War, no trashing of the United Nations, no upending of the U.S. intelligence community, no Department of Homeland Security, and no second administration for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Moreover, there would be no current role in government or policy making for those who benefited most from 911, those who were charter members of PNAC: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, newly-emergent racist leader William Bennett, and Cheney himself.
The one individual who stands tall among those intelligence and law enforcement officers who was aggressively pursuing the criminal network that would carry out 911 was FBI counter-terrorism top man John O’Neill. Ever since the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, O’Neill’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda had been dogged. After further terrorist attacks at the Khobar Towers barracks in Dharan, Saudi Arabia; the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and the USS Cole in Aden harbor, O’Neill’s biggest problem was not Al Qaeda, it was resistance from top officials inside the U.S. government.
According to classified documents from French intelligence, Al Qaeda and Bin Laden had still been under the operational control of U.S. and British “security services” until 1995, fully two years after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. As of 1996, the U.S. State Department continued to refuse to list Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization. After the 1996 bombings of the Khobar Towers that killed nineteen U.S. military personnel, the State Department under Secretary of State Warren Christopher, FBI Director Louis Freeh, and the Saudi government did everything they could to obstruct O’Neill’s investigation.
In his aggressive pursuit of Al Qaeda, O’Neill, according to people who worked closely with him, began to have serious concerns over complicity by those inside the Clinton and Bush administrations. There was the mysterious theft in the summer of 2000 of his briefcase at a Tampa hotel during a retirement seminar where the only other participants were 150 other FBI agents. In the briefcase were a few classified emails and a classified document called the Annual Field Office Report, a summary of the New York FBI’s office counter-terrorist and counter-intelligence operations, including one very sensitive investigation being conducted by another New York counter-intelligence FBI special agent, Michael Dick. Although a lighter, cigar cutter, and expensive pen were stolen, the papers were all accounted for when the briefcase turned up 90 minutes later at another nearby hotel. Ninety minutes, of course, was sufficient time to photocopy the documents and discover what O’Neill knew about both Al Qaeda and their Israeli shadows.
Special Agent Dick, who worked closely with O’Neill, had discovered a troubling ring of Israeli movers operating in the New York and New Jersey areas. Furthermore, some of these Israelis not only had connections with Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies but were also shadowing Arab and Muslims that had been under investigation as potential terrorist cells. But the Israelis were acting independently and there was no effort made to inform the FBI or local police of any intelligence they were obtaining on their targets.
Further frustrating Dick’s counter-espionage activities against the Israelis was the fact that they were using communications methods that made it almost impossible to conduct communications surveillance: they used Verizon pre-paid cell phones, two-way Nextel walkie-talkies, and Internet cafes.
At the same time, the DEA had discovered a nationwide ring of Israeli “art students,” many of whom had past connections to Israeli intelligence and military demolition units, were operating in and around New York and New Jersey. What the DEA did not realize was that the art students were also shadowing the very same Arab cells that would later carry out the 911 attacks.
And the DEA had become aware of a drug connection between the Russian-Israeli Mafia in Colombia and the globe trotting Saudi Prince Nayif al Saud. The DEA’s Operation Millennium was directed against this network, which largely took down most of the network in June 1999, when 808 kilograms of cocaine were seized in Paris. Later the DEA, in June 2000, the DEA declassified a “SECRET DEA-6” report from the DEA’s BCO (Bogota Country Office) so that the PCO (Paris Country Office) could share the intelligence on Saudi cocaine smuggling operations with the Paris police. The DEA and French law enforcement had compiled tons of evidence that Prince Nayif was transporting cocaine to support some major event.
The DEA report stated that Nayif stated that Allah had authorized him to sell drugs and that later his reason for selling the drugs would become known. It is significant that Nayif did not use alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Nayif claimed diplomatic immunity and the Saudi government threatened France and the Clinton administration with withholding lucrative contracts if they pursued their prince. Because of O’Neill’s close contacts with DEA, this intelligence would have been made known to him as well. The Saudi cocaine smuggling network involved organized crime elements tied to the Russian-Israeli Mafia in Miami; Medellin, Colombia; Marbella and Barcelona, Spain; Venezuela; Geneva; and the Netherlands. According to the DEA report, Nayif fathered a child with a woman named Doris Salazar, a Colombian national residing in Miami. The report also states that an organized crime figure only identified as “Pepe,” a Cuban American who ran a “large section of the Miami Port” and who came to Florida during the 1978 Mariel boat lift, was involved with Nayif in “protecting narcotic shipments upon arrival in the Miami port.” The declassified SECRET DEA-6 report contains the names of a number of cooperating witnesses in the investigation of Nayif and the cocaine smuggling network and the author takes seriously the statement in the document: “Protect identities of the cooperating defendants.”
The DEA originally became interested in the Israelis because they suspected they were involved in an Israeli Mafia Ecstasy smuggling ring. However, it soon became clear that the DEA had stumbled across something much larger – not only were DEA offices and homes of DEA agents around the country being cased by the Israelis, but they were also targeting Federal judges, U.S. Marshals, Environmental Protection Agency law enforcement officers, and FBI agents for surveillance.
It also became clear to the DEA that the Israeli art students were also involved with certain Colombians. On March 22, 2002, at the Oak Hills Apartment Complex in Irving, Texas, DEA agents arrested Israeli art student Dahan Eldad, along with Elsa Beatriz Africano-Leon, a Colombian national. On March 27, DEA agents arrested four other Israelis in the same apartment complex, including Aran Ofek, who said his father was a retired Israeli army two-star general. A $10,000 bond for another arrested Israeli, Michal Gal, was placed by Ophir Baer, an employee of Israeli telecommunications firm AMDOCS, Inc., a firm with operational access to the telephones being used by FBI agents John O’Neill, Michael Dick, and the DEA agents involved in tracking the Saudi/Mafia cocaine shipments being used to support various terrorist and intelligence cells in the United States and abroad.
On April 11, 2001, a DEA agent and a Fredericksburg, Virginia policeman questioned two female Israeli “art student” nationals at the shopping center in Fredericksburg. The passport for Yael Gavish contained some interesting entry/exit visas: 13 December 2000, entry into Bogota, Colombia and 5 February 2001, exit visa from Bogota. In addition, on 5 February there was a possible entry visa for Panama, which was followed by a 9 March 2001 entry visa in New York City. Gavish’s colleague Meirav Balhams had a New York State identity card listing her address as 354 Paterson Plank Rd., Jersey City, New Jersey. An FBI 9-11 suspect list dated February 22, 2002 lists Dominik Suter, along with an Ornit Levinson, a.k.a., Omit Suter, with an address of 312 Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City. Dominik Suter was the head of Urban Moving Systems of nearby Weehawken, the base of operations for two white vans with the same rear license plate that were seen parked at the Doric Apartments (near Patterson Plank Road) and at Liberty State Park at the same time the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The occupants of both vans, all Israelis, were seen celebrating the attack while dressed in Arab garb. Five Israelis in one of the vans were later arrested by the local police and FBI near Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey in the late afternoon of September 11.
O’Neill’s FBI colleague, Mike Dick, aggressively investigated this Israeli ring before and after 911. But like O’Neill, he soon found himself removed from his duties on the orders of the then-head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Michael Chertoff. Dick was very suspicious when Israeli movers quickly moved Zim American Israeli Shipping Company out of its 10,000 square feet of office space on the 17th Floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The partially Israeli state-owned firm forfeited a $50,000 security deposit when it terminated its lease and vacated the building one week prior to 911. According to a non official cover (NOC) CIA source who worked with Dick, Israeli movers moved explosives into the 17th Floor office space after Zim moved out.
After 911, Dick as well as the CIA NOC were harassed by their superiors on orders “from above.” Those orders came from Chertoff. Dick was first relieved of his primary counter-espionage duties, eventually sent to Pakistan to investigate the kidnapping of <>Wall Street Journal<> reporter Daniel Pearl, and eventually buried in a desk job at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. According to the CIA source, Pearl was murdered because he was getting too close to the money trail that financed 911. The CIA source said, “the same group that beheaded Pearl in Pakistan did the beheadings in Iraq.” The source added that the beheadings were “not Al Qaeda.”
The CIA source, who emphasized his past Republican credentials, emphasized that Al Qaeda was merely a “list” of arms dealers, mercenaries, drug dealers, financiers, and terrorists used by the CIA and Saudis during the Afghan Mujaheddin War against the Soviets. The source also iterated that all the 911 hijackers had fake IDs. During a joint CIA-FBI operation against lead hijacker Mohammed Atta in Fort Lee, New Jersey in 2000, the CIA and FBI team leaders complained to their superiors that their operation was being photographed by Israeli agents, thus compromising the operation. The CIA source affirmed that the Israelis in New Jersey were providing cover for the future hijacker teams.
It was not the first run-in by the CIA operative with the Israelis. He once caught a senior U.S. diplomat with close ties to Israel taking bribes from Moroccan government officials to write favorable reports on Morocco’s continued control over disputed and oil and mineral rich Western Sahara. Attempts to follow the diplomat’s laundered money were rebuffed by Madeleine Albright’s State Department.
The problems at the top of the CIA and FBI, said the source, existed since the Russian/Soviet spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were able to penetrate the top levels of both agencies. “They got there with help,” said the source.
O’Neill decided that because his own agency was stymieing his own investigative leads, he relied on DEA to handle his most sensitive inquiries and communications. Although DEA memos later suggested that Israeli telecommunications companies, under contract to the Justice Department, may have penetrated sensitive DEA communications as part of an intelligence operation, O’Neill was sure that his communications at the FBI were totally compromised and forced to rely on the DEA because of both internal political pressure from the FBI and Justice Department leadership and his fear that his communications were being wiretapped.
O’Neill also relied on French intelligence to obtain wiretap information on Al Qaeda cells. O’Neill was certain that the Saudi government and oil industry-centric members of the Bush administration were behind the Al Qaeda network. He was also aware of repeated negotiations between U.S. oil companies like UNOCAL and Halliburton and Taliban representatives dating back to 1996, the same year the Khobar Towers were bombed by the Taliban’s Al Qaeda wards. Although those negotiations ceased after the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, they began again in earnest after George W. Bush became president.
O’Neill had discovered that some of his Al Qaeda targets were involved in some very un-Islamic fundamentalist activities, including drug smuggling, teenage prostitution, and blood diamond dealing. The financial trail led O’Neill to a network of bank accounts in London, Dubai, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey. The network investigated coincided exactly with the activities being carried out by the Russian-Israeli Mafia and its links to diamond, drug, and weapons dealers that was especially active in New York and Florida. The future 911 hijackers and their Israeli “shadows” had more than living in the same neighborhoods and frequenting the same bars, video rental stores, and rental mailbox stores in common.
On October 12, 2000, the USS Cole, docked in Aden harbor after the U.S. Navy deemed the port safe and certified it as a Defense Fuel Support Point, was reportedly blown up by two men who approached the warship in a small boat. The men were said to be Al Qaeda members from the bin Laden family homeland in Hadhramaut, a remote region in the east of Yemen straddling the Yemeni-Saudi border. Later, groups called the Army of Mohammed and the Army of Aden-Abyan claimed responsibility for the attack but these claims were reported through obscure sources in London.
O’Neill and his FBI soon arrived in Yemen to investigate the crime. From the outset, O’Neill received a cold shoulder from the U.S. ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine (the Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait before Desert Storm and the U.S. viceroy for central Iraq after the U.S. occupation). Bodine’s orders to limit the scope of O’Neill’s investigation came from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose father Dr. Joseph Korbel, a neo-con anti-Soviet professor, was the mentor for one of his students at the University of Denver – Condoleeezza Rice. O’Neill was not permitted to interview Yemenis who witnessed the Cole explosion. O’Neill was not permitted to examine the hat worn by one of the bombers in the boat nor was he allowed to examine the harbor sludge for evidence.
O’Neill was soon pulled out of Yemen and Bodine refused him and his team permission to re-enter the country. O’Neill was getting too close to something. In February, 2001, after Yemen’s Interior Minister Hussein Mohammed Arab made a statement that there was no evidence linking the Cole bombing to Al Qaeda (“Investigations have not so far proved, either to us or to the Americans, any link between Osama bin Laden and the Cole bombing.”), the Bush administration showed no desire to find out who actually bombed the ship. They were too busy clearing the baffles for the Iraq invasion and their other agendas.
In early 2001, rumors began circulating that O’Neill would take over White House Counter-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke’s job at the National Security Council. Clarke had been one of the few holdovers from the Clinton to Bush administrations. Suddenly, the story about the 90 minute theft of O’Neill’s brief case was leaked to the New York Times, even though the Justice Department had long before dropped its own investigation of the incident. Although the FBI continued its own investigation of the brief case incident, it prevented an investigation of the leak of the O’Neill incident to the media.
On August 22, O’Neill retired from 30 years’ service with the FBI. The next day, he began his job as Security Director for the World Trade Center. His office was on the 34th Floor of the North Tower of the Trade Center. O’Neill’s building was the first one hit on September 11. He died while trying to save people in the South Tower, the second building hit by the hijackers.
A joint CIA-FBI computer system, code named “Alex,” was entirely focused on Bin Laden’s network. A unit at Langley, called “Station Alex,” was established in 1995. It began to detect that “Al Qaeda” was actually a diversified financial, drug smuggling, arms smuggling, and diamond smuggling network with tentacles in over 60 countries around the world. And, as with any large criminal syndicate, it had ties with legitimate companies such as banks, hawalahs, and religious charities, but also with criminal enterprises, including the Russian-Israeli, Latin American, and Balkans Mafias. This first step at coordinating the efforts of the CIA and FBI in combating Al Qaeda was successful. The FBI lead Alex agent was John O’Neill. His CIA counterpart was Michael Scheuer, who would later abruptly leave Langley upset that the threat posed by Al Qaeda was not being taken more seriously by the Bush administration. Scheuer’s worries mirrored those of O’Neill in the months before he was killed at the World Trade Center. As O’Neill got closer to those who would be behind 911, he found himself locked out of the Alex computer system. His access authorization had been pulled by higher authority. Eventually, Alex, like its counterpart, Able Danger, would be shut down by the Bush administration.
Foreign intelligence agencies would prove more useful than either the CIA or FBI in tracking leads on Al Qaeda and other terrorist threats against the West. The French, who had a long history of problems with Islamist terrorists dating from its Algerian War, had tremendous assets who had penetrated both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. A Confidential “French Eyes Only” DGSE intelligence document dated January 9, 2001, which was written about terrorist activities at the Al Qaeda training camp at Darounta, Afghanistan, bolsters what a CIA source reported about the October 2000 attack on the <>USS Cole<>. O’Neill was particularly interested in doing a DNA analysis of the hat worn by one of the so-called suicide bombers in the small boat that pulled alongside the Cole. He also wanted to conduct an explosives analysis of the mud beneath the ship.
The Cole was at THREATCON (threat condition) BRAVO, which means that its crew was on alert for suspicious approaching craft. One of the security detail aboard the Cole said he was under the impression that the small boat was a harbor services craft used to assist in garbage disposal and other routine operations.
The classified French intelligence report concludes that there was never a link between Al Qaeda units trained in Afghanistan for amphibious operations against ships and the attack on the Cole. This begs the question: if Al Qaeda did not bomb the Cole (as affirmed by the Yemeni prime minister), who did?
The following is from the French intelligence report:
“A group of Arab nationals, whose nationality is undetermined, were trained in amphibious operations at Darounta at the end of 1999 under the command of a Yemeni. In addition, in January 2000, a project to attack an American destroyer in Aden failed due to a lack of preparation. Finally, in February 2000, a group comprising 10 Yemenis had arrived in Darounta. Until May 2000, they were trained in using explosives supplied by Abou Khabab before they were sent to Jordan and Yemen.
No proof exists to connect these elements to the attack on the destroyer USS Cole perpetrated on October 12, 2000, but the American intelligence service has rapidly attempted information on Abou Khebab after the attack.
Finally, for what concerns France, it has been established that several French Islamists implicated in the attacks of 1995 and 1996 traveled to Afghan camps. Among them appear former Bosnian combatants like Joseph Jaime and David Vallat, and especially Farid Mellouk, who, in 1995, attended a training course in explosives at Darounta. Investigated by French police, he was arrested on 5 March 1998 in Belgium. A search resulted in the seizure of explosives, various types of detonators, potassium cyanide, and different written notes similar to the information in the course run at Darounta.
Excepting the Maghrebian enclave, the training given at Darounta, for a duration of about 2 months, principally concerned the making of explosives for the use by terrorists. This instruction, originally provided at Khalden camp in Paktia, was transferred during 1995, on the order of Ibu Cheikh, to Darounta after their break from the control of the special services of certain countries, notably the United States and United Kingdom.”
The classified report also gives some background on Abou Khebab: “Abou Khebab – Egyptian. He is identified in March 1999 by the CIA as the person in charge of training the Islamists associated with Osama bin Laden in the manufacture and use of chemicals and biological weapons. According to Egyptian intelligence, he was in Yemen in June 1999 and makes frequent trips to Pakistan.”
Given O’Neill’s close ties to French intelligence, he would have been aware of the cold trail the French had linking Al Qaeda to the Cole bombing. He would have also been aware of the CIA’s bird dogging of Abou Khebab between Yemen and Pakistan. So, if the Yemeni prime minister and the French are correct, who bombed the Cole?
The former CIA agent who worked with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York and New Jersey stated that the USS Cole was hit by a specially-configured Popeye cruise missile launched from an Israeli Dolphin-class submarine. Israeli tests of the missile in May 2000 in the waters off Sri Lanka demonstrated it could hit a target 930 miles away. The ex-CIA agent also stated that Ambassador Bodine threw John O’Neill and his team out of Yemen lest their investigation began uncovering evidence that the Cole was not blown up by an explosive-laden boat but by an Israeli cruise missile.
The former CIA agent said the reason for the Israeli attack was to further galvanize U.S. public opinion against both Al Qaeda and the Democrats in the weeks prior to the 2000 presidential elections. The Bush-Cheney team could blame the Democrats for not taking the Al Qaeda threat seriously. However, this is exactly the tact the Bush administration took after taking office: failure to support the CIA-FBI’s Alex Station, pressuring John O’Neill and other agents like Minneapolis agent Coleen Rowley and others across the nation who detected activity involving Arab flight students, and pulling the plug on a major data mining operation directed against Al Qaeda code named Able Danger, which was being jointly run by the DIA and the Special Operations Command.
The French discovery of a Bosnian connection to two of its nationals at Darounta is noteworthy. The Muslim operation in the Balkans was largely supported by official (CIA, DIA, and Special Operations) U.S. assistance but also by unofficial help. This was mainly carried out by private military contractors like MPRI and financial support networks like the Bosnia Defense Fund, established in the mid-1990s at a Riggs Bank account in Washington, DC. The principal movers behind the Bosnian Defense Fund were Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. In fact, Feith’s law firm, Feith and Zell (FANZ) set up the Bosnia Defense Fund. According to a former Riggs legal adviser, when objections were raised about the hundreds of millions of dollars collected from such countries as Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Malaysia, the UAE, Iran, Jordan, and Egypt that were being detected by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) being sent from Washington to Sarajevo, Bosnia, and reports that there was “spillage” of these funds into the hands of Al Qaeda units in the country, Perle’s response at one contentious meeting was, “just make it fucking happen.”
After 911, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill attempted to pressure banks and other financial institutions in Dubai and Saudi Arabia to provide records of past and ongoing Al Qaeda financial transactions. According to a former auditor with the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, during a trip by O’Neill in March 2002, the UAE and Saudi officials shook O’Neill’s hand, smiled at him, and offered to assist. However, they soon put pressure on the Bush administration, including several leading neo-cons who knew the stakes of such disclosures, to force Paul O’Neill out. Later that year, in December, Bush forced O’Neill to resign. A November 29, 2001 letter from Treasury Department General Counsel David D. Aufhauser to Swiss Procurator General Claude Nicati described the measures the Treasury Department was taking against a major Al Qaeda financier named Yassin A. Kadi. However, that particular thread intersected with activities by Islamist guerrillas in Bosnia, and that was a threat to certain neocon elements who had established a Bosnian support fund in the 1990s that involved the same financial support networks that supported Al Qaeda. In fact, Al Qaeda units were active in Bosnia during the civil war. And those units were partly supported by the Bosnia Defense Fund established by Perle and Feith.
According to the Aufhauser letter to his Swiss counterpart, “Mr. Kadi has acknowledged in a number of press accounts that he is the founder of the Muwafaq, or “Blessed Relief” Foundation. He is identified in legal records as ‘Chairman’ of the foundation. The leader of the terrorist organization Al-Gama’at Al-Islamiya, Tala Fuad Kassem, has said that the Muwafaq Foundation provided logistical and financial support for a mujahadin battalion in Bosnia. The foundation also operated in Sudan, Somalia, and Pakistan, among other places.” The letter continued, “Muhammad Ali Harrath, main activist of the Tunisian Islamic Front (TIF) in the United Kingdom, was associated with Muwafaq personnel in Bosnia and other TIF members worked at the Muwafaq Foundation.”
The Treasury Department, in its efforts to track down past money flows to Al Qaeda, had undoubtedly come across those Riggs Bank transfers to Sarajevo and hence to Al Qaeda in the 1990s. And the 2.5 terabytes of data collected by the Able Danger team on Al Qaeda also undoubtedly included FINCEN, SWIFT, and other banking and wire transfer data. And that pointed not only to people like Yassin Kadi but also to the Bosnia Defense Fund of Perle and Feith. More the reason to obstruct Paul O’Neill’s earnest money tracking efforts. Soon, O’Neill and Aufhauser would be bounced out of Treasury and replaced with more “agreeable” people to fight the “global war on terrorism.”
Aufhauser’s letter ends with a troubling conclusion about Albania and Bosnia, the two countries that received support from the neo-cons in the Clinton and Bush administrations and which have surfaced in recent disclosures in Italy about ties between the Pentagon’s own intelligence unit and Al Qaeda-affiliated operatives in Italy who had been liaisons between the Americans and Islamist fighters in the Balkans: “When a region becomes more settled, such as Bosnia or Albania today, seemingly legitimate businesses replace charitable foundations as cover for continuing terrorist organizational activity. Mr. Kadi’s actions and those of his Muwafiq Foundation and businesses fit this pattern and give rise to a reasonable basis to believe that they have facilitated terrorist activities.”
By the end of 2000, DIA, CIA, and NSA had compiled quite a dossier on Al Qaeda and its activities. Yet, the political leadership of the outgoing Clinton administration was more interested in not rocking the boat before leaving for the private sector and the incoming Bush administration officials were already making it known that they wanted to see intelligence that conformed with its political dogma. After the neo-cons nested in the Pentagon, the use of DIA and NSA to produce cooked intelligence became policy. Similar pressure would soon be brought to bear on the CIA, State Department, FBI, and National Security Council.
Post-911, the FBI insisted that Mohammed Atta did not arrive in the United States for the first time until 2000. However, Able Danger placed him in the United States as early as 1999. In addition, FBI Farsi, Azeri, and Turkish translator Sibel Edmonds discovered further evidence that “Al Qaeda” was tied up with drug dealers operating from Afghanistan to Turkey and into the Balkans, including Albania and Kosovo, the nexus for Al Qaeda activity. The drug connection to Al Qaeda was never investigated by the 911 Commission.
Past U.S. official and unofficial support for the Albanian and Bosnian Al Qaeda and other terror cells would become highlighted. The neo-con connection to those elements was also problematic. Edmonds was fired by the FBI and faced the same recriminations as John O’Neill, Coleen Rowley, and dozens of other intelligence and law enforcement agents who did detect that something on the scale of 911 was about to occur. Allegations by the CIA director Porter Goss, his successor as House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, the 911 Commission, and others that the U.S. Intelligence Community failed the nation on 911 are convenient charges designed to draw attention away from the involvement of senior Bush and Clinton administration officials in laying the groundwork for the attack: the closing down of various intelligence operations, the firing of key officials, and allowing classified information to leak to countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Israel, and Turkey.
In the course of its data trawling, which commenced in 1999, Able Danger grabbed some astounding data. According to DIA source, evidence was uncovered of secret deals between then-Stanford University Provost and Chevron director Condoleezza Rice and the government of China. After former DIA analyst Russ Tice reported the possible presence of a Chinese agent inside DIA, he was abruptly fired from his highly classified position at his next agency, the NSA. At the same time, a top Chinese analyst at DIA, who was responsible for taking care of his elderly parents, strangely committed suicide. Almost simultaneously, a highly-cleared Chinese-American Air Force officer stationed at Offutt Air Force Base outside of Omaha, Nebraska, also committed suicide, however, no suicide note or body were ever recovered. In November 2003, similar strange suicides plagued the State Department, NSA, and CIA communities as intelligence was being cooked to support the war against Iraq. Tice, a veteran like John O’Neill of operations in Yemen following the USS Cole bombing, was reassigned to the NSA motor pool and later run through a series of humiliating and demoralizing Kafkaesque hearings and panels run by a combination of NSA’s draconian Security Directorate and NSA’s subservient psychological assessment unit.
After the U.S. Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) and its contractor Orion Scientific pulled out of Able Danger, most of the work was conducted between DIA’s TWI-2 (Trans World Information Warfare) support (Computer Technologies) division, code named Stratus Ivy, and Raytheon, a company with close links to the U.S. intelligence community. TWI-1 is DIA’s Special Activities Trans World Information Warfare support group, which liaised with the Able Danger group. It was during Phase II of Able Danger, the phase that primarily relied on Raytheon support, that the Chinese connection to Rice was uncovered. It is uncertain what Able Danger and another DIA program code named Doorhawk Galley may have uncovered on the Mohammed Atta cells around the country, their affiliation with Israeli movers and art students, and other terrorist plans, but the revelations of Able Danger have resulted in the revocation of the security clearance, based on trumped up charges, of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the key person involved in the programs to track Al Qaeda prior to 911. The revelations have also likely spelled the end of any further DIA data mining programs that could embarrass the Bush administration and its Israeli and Saudi allies. These include Able Danger’s proposed successor Able Provenance and its data base Kimberlite Magic.
Another group that was getting close to Russian-Israeli Mafia involvement with the so-called Al Qaeda network was the CIA’s Counter Proliferation Division. Working through Operations Directorate and clandestine case officers and non-official cover personnel, the CIA began to discover links between Al Qaeda, Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), Pakistani nuclear weapons smuggler and top nuclear physicist A. Q. Khan, and a Russian-Israeli-Turkish nuclear component smuggling ring that involved illegal exports from the former Soviet states, the United States, South Africa, and Malaysia to Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea.
The secret deals to traffic in weapons of mass destruction, if revealed, would expose certain key figures in the Bush administration. Therefore, it had to be cut off at the knees. The White House revelations about a CIA NOC front company, Brewster Jennings and Associates and one of its under cover agents, not only served to attack anti-Iraq war opponents but also effectively rolled up the covert operation and took the heat off of certain political and financial middlemen who worked for or were close to the administration, especially within Dick Cheney’s office and Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon. Chief among these were I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, and Douglas Feith.
It was not the first time that a CIA NOC company had been exposed as a result of the penetration of the U.S. intelligence by a foreign government. According to a former CIA officer, Synergistics Technologies, Inc., described as a CIA front, had been exposed after Israeli intelligence had broken U.S. and NATO encryption codes during Desert Storm. The firm’s covert activities with post-Soviet Russian television networks, the European Broadcasting Union, and the Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow were laid wide open. That compromise of U.S. intelligence with the Israelis would not be the first. Air Force Colonel Larry Franklin was indicted for passing classified information to the pro-Israeli organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Since Franklin agreed to a plea bargain with the government, it is expected that the case may target additional officials and consultants of the Bush administration.
The clearing of the baffles by senior officials of the Bush and Clinton administrations in preparation for their defining moment of a “new Pearl Harbor” has resulted in the virtual destruction of America’s ability to adequately collect intelligence and honestly analyze its importance. The corridors of the FBI, NSA, DIA, CIA, State Department, Treasury, and other agencies are littered with the broken careers and dead bodies of dedicated intelligence and law enforcement officers. There are a number of cases in which career and conscientious intelligence and law enforcement officials have abruptly lost their jobs — some for showing undesirable independence and free thinking, others for merely knowing too much about who knew what and when about 911.
The neo-cons have done to the U.S. Intelligence Community what Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. America has never been weaker. Rather than creating a “New American Century,” the neo-cons have created a new global “Dark Age” of fear and constant war.