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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What didn't they know and why didn't they want to know it?

I'm continuing to work my way through Webster Griffin Tarpley's 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA. On pages 86-92, I learn more details than I knew before about the case of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. After the report from the 9/11 Commission came out last summer, Edmonds wrote an open letter to Chairman Thomas Kean. In it she documents, among other things, about how another translator deliberately blocked the translation of potentially key documents (and was backed by her superiors). And here's an interesting paragraph:
After the terrorist attacks of September 11 we, the translators at the FBI’s largest and most important translation unit, were told to slow down, even stop, translation of critical information related to terrorist activities so that the FBI could present the United States Congress with a record of ‘extensive backlog of untranslated documents’, and justify its request for budget and staff increases. While FBI agents from various field offices were desperately seeking leads and suspects, and completely depending on FBI HQ and its language units to provide them with needed translated information, hundreds of translators were being told by their administrative supervisors not to translate and to let the work pile up (please refer to the CBS-60 Minutes transcript dated October 2002, and provided to your investigators in January-February 2004). This issue has been confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee (Please refer to Senator Grassley and Senator Leahy’s letters during the summer of 2002, provided to your investigators in January/February 2004). This confirmed report has been reported to be substantiated by the Department of Justice Inspector General Report (Please refer to DOJ-IG report Re: Sibel Edmonds and FBI Translation, provided to you prior to the completion of your report). I provided your investigators with a detailed and specific account of this issue and the names of other witnesses willing to corroborate this. (Please refer to tape-recorded 3.5 hours testimony by Sibel Edmonds, provided to your investigators on February 11, 2004).

Today, almost three years after 9/11, and more than two years since this information has been confirmed and made available to our government, the administrators in charge of language departments of the FBI remain in their positions and in charge of the information front lines of the FBI’s Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence efforts. Your report has omitted any reference to this most serious issue, has foregone any accountability what so ever, and your recommendations have refrained from addressing this issue, which when left un-addressed will have even more serious consequences. This issue is systemic and departmental. Why did your report choose to exclude this information and this serious issue despite the evidence and briefings you received? How can budget increases address and resolve this misconduct by mid- level bureaucratic management? How can the addition of a new bureaucratic layer, “Intelligence Czar”, in its cocoon removed from the action lines, address and resolve this problem?
Maybe Kean & Co. thought that Edmonds was just a disgruntled fired employee striking back at the FBI. But her credibility is vouched for by at least one Republican Senator:
Edmonds put her concerns about the FBI's language department in writing to her immediate superiors and to a top official at the FBI. For months, she said she received no response. Then, she turned for help to the Justice Department's inspector general and to Sen. Charles Grassley, whose committee, the Judiciary Committee, has direct oversight of the FBI.

“She's credible,” says Grassley. “And the reason I feel she's very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.”
To me, two of the fishiest parts of the official 9/11 story are 1) that two airplanes were able to cause three massive steel buildings to collapse completely to the ground, and 2) that the headquarters of the world's largest ever, and most sophisticated, military was hit by a plane over half an hour after everyone in world knew that America was being attacked. But fishier still is the even more abundant evidence of a massive coverup, of which Sibel Edmonds' testimony is but a small but highly revealing part. If the Bushies had nothing to hide, why have they worked so hard for nearly four years to hide it?

I read frequently, in regards to Rove v. Plame, that the lesson of Watergate is that it's not the original crime that brings down an administration, it's the coverup. But apparently 9/11 is a crime of such magnitude that they've been able to carry on the coverup for over four years (from what Tarpley and Edmonds say, it seems clear that the 9/11 coverup started well before 9/11). While the evidence of government involvement in a 9/11 conspiracy may be murky and rely on conflicting testimony from unreliable sources, the evidence of a government conspiracy to cover up what happened is abundant and unassailable. Bush's nomination of Henry Kissinger to head the 9/11 commission should have been an impeachable offense in itself!

Anyway, none of this is new. But it certainly relates to two stories currently in the news. From today's NY Times:
More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States, according to a former defense intelligence official and a Republican member of Congress.

In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military's Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the congressman, Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and the former intelligence official said Monday.
And then there's this story:
In a forthcoming book, the CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora—intelligence operatives had tracked him—and could have been caught. "He was there," Berntsen tells NEWSWEEK. Asked to comment on Berntsen's remarks, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones passed on 2004 statements from former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks. "We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001," Franks wrote in an Oct. 19 New York Times op-ed. "Bin Laden was never within our grasp." Berntsen says Franks is "a great American. But he was not on the ground out there. I was."

In his book—titled "Jawbreaker"—the decorated career CIA officer criticizes Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department for not providing enough support to the CIA and the Pentagon's own Special Forces teams in the final hours of Tora Bora, says Berntsen's lawyer, Roy Krieger. (Berntsen would not divulge the book's specifics, saying he's awaiting CIA clearance.) That backs up other recent accounts, including that of military author Sean Naylor, who calls Tora Bora a "strategic disaster" because the Pentagon refused to deploy a cordon of conventional forces to cut off escaping Qaeda and Taliban members.
Basically, our government showed little interest in capturing the supposed perpetrators of 9/11, either before or after it happened. They had well-documented plans to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and used 9/11 (or caused it) as their excuse for doing what they wanted to do all along. Preventing 9/11 or capturing bin Laden would have cost Halliburton and Bechtel billions and likely would have prevented the Repugs from controlling all three branches of government. They have clearly shown that they were willing to sacrifice thousands of American lives based on lies in their Iraq misadventure--why should anyone believe that they didn't do the same to get their global war on terror?