“The engineering of a series
of provocations to justify military intervention
is feasible and could be
accomplished with the resources available.”
Report of May 1963 to Joint
Chiefs of Staff
Bush’s Terror War and the Fixing of Intelligence
On September 11, 2001, within hours of the murderous 9/11 attacks, Bush,
Rumsfeld, and Cheney had committed America to what they later called the
“War on Terror.” It should more properly, I believe, be called the “Terror
War,” one in which terror has been directed repeatedly against civilians by
all participants, both states and non-state actors.
A terror war is one in
which the major role is played by weapons of indiscriminate destruction,
whether they are IEDs planted by the roadside or bombs delivered aerially by
a high-tech drone. 
Bush’s war should also be seen as part of a larger, indeed global, process
in which terror has been used against civilians in interrelated campaigns by
all major powers, including China in Xinjiang and Russia in Chechnya, as
well as the United States. 
Terror war in its global context
should perhaps be seen as the latest stage of the age-long secular spread of
transurban civilization into areas of mostly rural resistance - areas where
conventional forms of warfare, for either geographic or cultural reasons,
Terror War was formally declared by
George W. Bush on the evening of
September 11, 2001, with his statement to the American nation that,
make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and
those who harbor them." 
But the notion that Bush’s terror war
was in pursuit of actual terrorists lost credibility in 2003, when it was
applied to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a country known to have been targeted by
terrorists but not to have harbored them. 
It lost still more credibility
with the 2005 publication in Britain of the so-called Downing Street memo,
in which the head of the British intelligence service MI6 reported after a
visit to Washington in 2002 that,
"Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein,
through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.
But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
False stories followed in due course linking Iraq to WMD, anthrax, and
Niger yellowcake (uranium).
This essay will demonstrate that before 9/11 a small element inside the
CIA’s Bin Laden Unit and related agencies, the so-called
Alec Station Group,
were also busy, “fixing” intelligence by suppressing it, in a way which,
accidentally or deliberately, enabled the Terror War. They did so by
withholding evidence from the FBI before 9/11 about two of the eventual
alleged hijackers on 9/11, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, thus
ensuring that the FBI could not surveil the two men or their colleagues.
This failure to share was recognized in the 9/11 Commission Report, but
treated as an accident that might not have occurred “if more resources had
been applied.”  This explanation, however, has since been
refuted by 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean.
Asked recently by two
filmmakers if the failure to deal appropriately with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi
could have been a simple mistake, Kean replied:
Oh, it wasn’t careless oversight. It was purposeful. No question about that…
The conclusion that we came to was that in the DNA of these organizations
was secrecy. And secrecy to the point of ya don’t share it with anybody.
In 2011 an important book by Kevin Fenton,
Disconnecting the Dots,
demonstrated conclusively that the withholding was purposive, and sustained
over a period of eighteen months. 
This interference and
manipulation became particularly blatant and controversial in the days
before 9/11; it led one FBI agent, Steve Bongardt, to predict accurately on
August 29, less than two weeks before 9/11, that “someday someone will die.”
As will be seen, the motives for this withholding remain inscrutable.
time I was satisfied with Lawrence Wright’s speculations that the CIA may
have wanted to recruit the two Saudis; and that,
“The CIA may also have been
protecting an overseas operation [possibly in conjunction with Saudi Arabia]
and was afraid that the F.B.I. would expose it.” 
of this essay is to suggest that the motives for the withholding may have
had to do with the much larger neocon objective being imposed on American
foreign policy at this same time:
the consolidation of U.S. global hegemony
by the establishment of U.S. forward-based bases around the oil fields of
In short, the withholding of evidence should be seen as part of the larger
ominous pattern of the time, including the malperformance of the U.S.
government (USG) in response to the 9/11 attacks, and the murderous anthrax
letters which helped secure the passage of the Patriot Act.
I am now persuaded by Fenton that Lawrence Wright’s explanation, that the
CIA was protecting a covert operation, may explain the beginnings of the
withholding in January 2000, but cannot explain its renewal in the days just
before 9/11. Fenton analyzes a list of thirty-five different occasions where
the two alleged hijackers were protected in this fashion, from January 2000
to about September 5, 2001, less than a week before the hijackings.
We shall see that in his analysis, the incidents fall into two
The motive he attributes to the earlier ones, was “to cover a
CIA operation that was already in progress.” 
“the system was blinking red” in the summer of 2001, and the CIA expected an
imminent attack, Fenton can see no other explanation than that “the purpose
of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go
Fenton’s second sentence would imply that a homicidal crime was committed by
members of the Alec Station group, even if the crime was one of manslaughter
(unintended homicide) rather than deliberate and premeditated murder.
can imagine benign reasons for withholding the information:
for example, the
CIA may have been tolerating the behavior of the two Saudis in order to
track down their associates. In this case, we would be dealing with no more
than a miscalculation - albeit a homicidal miscalculation.
The Terror War
...and the Rumsfeld-Cheney-Wolfowitz Project of Global
But in the course of this essay I shall dwell on the activities of the head
of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, Richard Blee, in Uzbekistan as well as
Afghanistan. Uzbekistan was an area of concern not only to Blee and his
superior Cofer Black; it was also in an area of major interest to Richard
Cheney, whose corporation Halliburton had been active since 1997 or earlier
in developing the petroleum reserves of Central Asia.
Cheney himself said in
a speech to oil industrialists in 1998,
"I cannot think of a time when we
have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant
as the Caspian.” 
I shall suggest that the purpose as well as the result of protecting the two
Saudis may have been to fulfill the objectives of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the
Project for the
New American Century (PNAC)
neocon group for establishing
“forward-based forces” in Central Asia. 
We shall see that a
phone call on 9/11 from CIA Director Tenet to Stephen Cambone, a key PNAC
figure in the Pentagon, apparently transmitted some of the privileged
information that never reached the FBI.
This neocon agenda was partially to maintain American and Israeli domination
of the region for security purposes, and (as we shall see) to create the
conditions for future unilateral preemptive actions against unfriendly
states like Iraq.
In particular it was designed to establish new secure
bases in the Middle East, anticipating Donald Rumsfeld’s predictable
announcement in 2003 that the U.S. would pull “virtually all of its troops,
except some training personnel,” out of Saudi Arabia. 
was partly also to strengthen American influence in particular over the
newly liberated states of Central Asia, with their sizable unproven oil and
Fenton’s alarming conclusion about CIA actions leading up to the 9/11
attacks makes more sense in the context of this agenda, and also in the
context of three other revealing anomalies about Bush’s Terror War.
The first anomaly
is the paradox that this supposed pursuit of al Qaeda was conducted in
alliance with the two nations, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, that were most
actively supporting al Qaeda in other parts of the world. In this essay
we shall see U.S. and Saudi intelligence cooperating in such a way as to
protect, rather than neutralize, Saudi agents in al Qaeda.
- The second anomaly
is that although the CIA may have been focused on crushing al Qaeda,
Rumsfeld and Cheney were intent from the outset on a much wider war.
In September 2001 there was no intelligence on 9/11 linking the
attacks to Iraq, yet Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, supported by his
deputy Paul Wolfowitz, was already observing on September 12,
were no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan and that we should
consider bombing Iraq, which, he said, had better targets.” 
Rumsfeld’s argument was supported by a Defense Department paper prepared for
the ensuing Camp David meetings of September 15-16, which,
‘the immediate priority targets for initial action’ should be al Qaeda, the
Taliban, and Iraq.” 
Iraq had been a target for Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz since at least 1998, when
the two men co-signed a PNAC letter to President Clinton, calling for “the
removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.” 
But Iraq was
not the only target in the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz agenda, which since at
least 1992 had been nothing less than global U.S. dominance, or what former
U.S. Colonel Andrew Bacevich called “permanent American global hegemony.”
It was a high priority for the neocons. Even before Bush had
been elected by the Supreme Court in December 2000, Cheney was at work
securing key posts for the 1998 letter’s cosigners (including Richard
Armitage, John Bolton, Richard Perle, along with other PNAC personnel like
Stephen Cambone) in the White House, State, and Defense.
The terror war from its outset was designed as an instrument to implement
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on September 24,
“raised the issue of state sponsorship of terrorism: ‘What is our strategy
with respect to countries that support terrorism like Iran, Iraq, Libya,
Syria, and Sudan?’” 
In his memoir, General Wesley Clark
reports that the question had evolved by November into a Pentagon five-year
As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior
military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for
going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as
part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven
countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia
and Sudan. 
At about this time, former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht published an
article in The Weekly Standard about the need for a change of regime in Iran
and Syria.  (Gerecht continues to warn in The Weekly Standard
about the menace of both nations today.)
In the Clinton era Gerecht, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, had been part of the
Project for the New American Century, a hawkish group calling both for
action against Iraq in particular and also more generally for an expanded
defense budget that would “increase defense spending significantly” in “the
cause of American leadership.”
The PNAC report of September 2000 -
Rebuilding America’s Defenses had much to say about Gulf oil and the
importance of retaining and strengthening “forward-based forces in the
It is relevant that by the end of 2001, in the wake of 9/11 and the Terror
War, the United States had already established new bases in Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and was thus better positioned to influence the
behavior of the newly liberated governments in the huge oil and gas region
east of the Caspian.
In the course of this essay we shall see that the 2001
agreement to use the first and one of the most important of these bases, Karshi-Khanabad or K-2 in Uzbekistan, grew out of an earlier Pentagon
arrangement, supplemented by a CIA liaison agreement negotiated in 1999 by
Richard Blee of the Alec Station Group, a central figure in this essay.
Americans are unaware that on 9/11 U.S. Special Forces were already at K-2
on an Uzbek training mission, and that by September 22, two weeks before a
formal U.S.-Uzbek military agreement,
“the CIA was already flying its teams
into the massive Karshi-Khanabad, or K2, air base in southern Uzbekistan,
where U.S. army engineers were repairing the runway.” 
- A third anomaly is that the Terror War led to a dramatic increase in the
resort to terror, and even torture, by America itself, including against its
In this context it is relevant that Cheney and Rumsfeld,
through their participation in the Defense Department’s super-secret
Doomsday Project, had also been part of Continuity of Government (COG)
planning for undermining the U.S. Bill of Rights by the warrantless
surveillance and detention of dissenters. 
dating back to the fear of Communists in the McCarthyite 1950s, have been
the underpinnings for the elaborate plans in the Pentagon and elsewhere for
dealing with antiwar protests against the Pentagon’s plans for global
As I have argued elsewhere, the U.S. is now spending billions every year on
Homeland Security in no small part because of the belief, articulated by
Marine Colonel Oliver North, that the Vietnam War was lost in the streets of
America, and that this deterrent to U.S. military operations needed to be
dealt with. 
Cheney and Rumsfeld, as part of the so-called
Doomsday Project for Continuity of Government (COG) planning, had been part
of this effort also. 
In short, 9/11 fulfilled agendas long
contemplated by a small group of officials for radical new policies both in
Central Asia and also inside America.
The homicidal crime suggested by Fenton’s meticulous research is one both
difficult and painful to contemplate. America is in a crisis today because
of the activities of the Banks Too Big to Fail, which, as has been pointed
out, were also Banks Too Big to Jail - for to punish them as criminals would
endanger America’s already threatened financial structure. 
This essay, though detailed, is dealing with something analogous, what may
have been a Crime Too Big to Punish.
9/11, as will be developed in this essay, has other points in common with
the John F. Kennedy assassination.
The Cover-Up of 9/11
and of the CIA’s Role in Letting It Happen
After ten years it is important to reassess what we know and do not know
about the events that culminated in 9/11, particularly the actions of the
CIA and the FBI and the denial of critical information to the 9/11
Today, we can confidently say:
the most important truths still remain
unknown, in large part because many of the most important documents
are still either unreleased or heavily redacted
the efforts at cover-up continue, if
anything more aggressively than before
In addition to the cover-up, there has
been what former 9/11 Commission staffer John Farmer has called
either “unprecedented administrative incompetence or organized
mendacity” on the part of key figures in Washington 
These figures include,
They include also President
Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Samuel Berger, who prior to testifying
on these matters, went to the National Archives and removed, and presumably
destroyed, key relevant documentation. 
In his book, Farmer
has in effect endorsed both of these alternatives.
Farmer’s first alternative, of “unprecedented administrative incompetence,”
is in effect the explanation offered by the 9/11 Commission Report, to deal
with a) striking anomalies both on 9/11 itself, and b) the preceding twenty
months during which important information was withheld from the FBI by key
personnel in the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit (the so-called Alec Station).
thanks to the groundbreaking new book by Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the
Dots, we can no longer attribute the anomalous CIA behavior to “systemic
problems,” or what Tony Summers rashly calls “bureaucratic confusion.”
Building on earlier important books by James Bamford, Lawrence Wright, Peter
Lance, and Philip Shenon, Fenton demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt
that there was a systematic CIA pattern of withholding important information
from the FBI, even when the FBI would normally be entitled to it.
brilliantly, he shows that the withholding pattern has been systematically
sustained through four successive post-9/11 investigations: those of the
Congressional Inquiry chaired by Senators Bob Graham and Richard Shelby
(still partly withheld), the 9/11 Commission, the Department of Justice
inspector general, and the CIA inspector general.
Most importantly of all, he shows that the numerous withholdings, both pre-
and post 9/11, were the work of relatively few people. The withholding of
information from the FBI was principally the work of the so-called “Alec
Station group” - a group within but not identical with the CIA’s Osama Bin
Laden Unit or “Alec Station,” consisting largely of CIA personnel, though
including a few FBI as well.
Key figures in this group were CIA officer Tom
Wilshire (discussed in the 9/11 Commission Report as “John”), and his
immediate superior at Alec Station, Richard Blee.
The post-9/11 cover-up of Wilshire’s behavior was principally the work of
one person, Barbara Grewe, who worked first on the Justice Department
Inspector General’s investigation of Wilshire’s behavior, then was
transferred to two successive positions with the 9/11 Commission’s staff,
where, under the leadership of Executive Director Philip Zelikow, she was
able to transfer the focus of investigative attention from the performance
of the CIA to that of the FBI. 
Whether or not Grewe
conducted the interviews of Wilshire and other relevant personnel, she,
“certainly drew on them when drafting her sections of the Commission’s and
Justice Department inspector general’s reports.” 
Grewe’s repositioning from post to post is a sign of an intended cover-up at
a higher level.
So, as we shall see, is Wilshire’s transfer in May 2001 from
CIA’s Alec Station (the Osama Bin Laden Unit) to the FBI, where he began a
new phase of interference with the normal flow of intelligence, obstructing
the FBI from within it. 
The pattern begins with intelligence obtained from surveillance of an
important al Qaeda summit meeting of January 2000 in Malaysia, perhaps the
only such summit before 9/11. The meeting drew instant and high-level US
attention because of indirect links to a support element (a key telephone in
Yemen used by al Qaeda) suspected of acting as a communications center in
the 1998 bombings of US Embassies.
As Fenton notes,
“The CIA realized that
the summit was so important that information about it was briefed to CIA and
FBI leaders [Louis Freeh and Dale Watson], National Security Adviser Samuel
Berger and other top officials.” 
Yet inside Alec Station Tom Wilshire and his CIA subordinate (known only as
“Michelle”)  blocked the effort of an FBI agent detailed
there (Doug Miller) to notify the FBI that one of the participants (Khalid
al-Mihdhar) had a US visa in his passport. 
then sent a cable to other CIA stations falsely stating that al-Mihdhar’s,
“travel documents, including a multiple entry US visa, had been copied and
passed ‘to the FBI for further investigation.’” 
also failed to watchlist the participants in the meeting, as was called for
by CIA guidelines. 
This was just the beginning of a systematic, sometimes lying pattern, where
NSA and CIA information about al-Mihdhar and his traveling companion, Nawaf
al-Hazmi, was systematically withheld from the FBI, lied about, or
manipulated or distorted in such a way as to inhibit an FBI investigation of
the two Saudis and their associates.
This is a major component of the 9/11
story; because the behavior of these two would-be hijackers was so
unprofessional that, without this CIA protection provided by the Alec
Station Group, they would almost certainly have been detected and detained
or deported, long before they prepared to board Flight 77 in Washington.
Fenton concludes with a list of thirty-five different occasions where the
two alleged hijackers were protected in this fashion, from January 2000 to
about September 5, 2001, less than a week before the hijackings. 
In his analysis, the incidents fall into two main groups. The motive he
attributes to the earlier ones, such as the blocking of Doug Miller’s cable,
was “to cover a CIA operation that was already in progress.” 
However after “the system was blinking red” in the summer of 2001, and the
CIA expected an imminent attack, Fenton can see no other plausible
explanation than that “the purpose of withholding the information had become
to allow the attacks to go forward.” 
Wilshire’s pattern of interference changed markedly after his move to the
Bureau. When in CIA he had moved to block transmittal of intelligence to the
FBI. Now, in contrast, he initiated FBI reviews of the same material, but in
such a way that the reviews were conducted in too leisurely a fashion to
bear fruit before 9/11.
Fenton suspects that Wilshire anticipated a future
review of his files; and was laying a false trail of documentation to
neutralize his embarrassing earlier performance. 
I believe we must now accept Fenton’s finding of fact:
“It is clear that
this information was not withheld through a series of bizarre accidents, but
However, I suggest a different explanation
as to what those intentions originally were, one which is superficially much
simpler, more benign, and also more explicative of other parts, apparently
unrelated, of the 9/11 mystery.
Joint Chiefs oarf Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case
II),” Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 1, 1963,
NARA #202-10002-10018, 21,; discussion in Scott, American War
Machine, 193, 196.
Terror war evolved out of the aerial attacks on civilians in World
War II, beginning with Guernica and ending with the mass bombings of
German and Japanese cities. But that aerial war was just one phase
of a larger conventional war between armed forces.
But perhaps no single act of terror committed in the last decade,
whether by Qaddafi in Libya or Assad in Syria, has surpassed or even
come close to the U.S. devastation of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
“Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation,” September
On this point see the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon
the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report (New York: W.W.
Norton, 2004), 66: “To date we have seen no evidence that … Iraq
cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks
against the United States.”
Sunday Times (London), May 1, 2005; Mark Danner, The Secret Way to
War: the Downing Street Memo and the Iraq War’s buried history (New
York: New York Review Books, 2006).
9/11 Commission Report, 266-72 (272).
Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski, “Who Is Rich Blee?” 911Truth.org,
September 21, 2111,; Rory O’Connor and Ray Nowosielski,
“Insiders voice doubts about CIA’s 9/11 story,” Salon, October 14,
http://www.salon.com/writer/rory_oc.... O’Connor and Nowosielski
add corroboration from former Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke.
“Clarke said he assumed that ‘there was a high-level decision in the
CIA ordering people not to share that information.’ When asked who
might have issued such an order, he replied, ‘I would think it would
have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet - although he
added that Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today
“even if you waterboarded them.’
Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots (Walterville, OR: TrineDay,
9/11 Commission Report, 259, 271; Lawrence Wright, The Looming
Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006),
352–54; Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine (Lanham, MD: Rowman &
Littlefield, 2010), 203.
Lawrence Wright, “The Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68;
cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 339-44; discussion in Peter Dale Scott,
The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich
MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008), 355, 388-89.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 383-86.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 48. Cf. Lawrence Wright, “The
Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; quoted approvingly in
Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 399.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.
Lutz Kleverman, “The new Great Game,” Guardian (London), October 19,
Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a
New Century: A Report of the Project for the New American Century,
September 2000,, 17, 27.
“US Pulls out of Saudi Arabia,” BBC News, April 29, 2003,.
Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: inside America’s war on
terror (New York: Free Press, 2004), 31.
Bradley Graham, By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and
Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld (New York: Public Affairs,
PNAC, Letter to President Clinton on Iraq, January 26, 1998,
[Gary Dorrien, Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax
Americana (New York: Routledge, 2004). Bacevich was speaking of a
1992 memo drafted by Wolfowitz for then Defense Secretary Cheney,
calling for America to retain the power to act unilaterally. See
Lewis D. Solomon, Paul D. Wolfowitz: visionary intellectual,
policymaker, and strategist (New York: Praeger, 2007), 52; Andrew
Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S.
Diplomacy (Cambridge MA: Harvard UP, 2002), 44.
Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 131.
Much earlier, on the afternoon of September 11, DOD official Stephen
Cambone recorded notes from his conversation with Rumsfeld : “Near
term target need - Go massive Sweep it all up thing related and not”.
Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars (New York: PublicAffairs, 2003),
Nicholas Lemann, “The Next World Order,” New Yorker, April 1, 2002,.
Rebuilding America’s Defenses - Strategy, Forces and Resources For a
New Century: A Report of the Project for the New American Century,
September 2000,, 17, 27.
Ahmed Rashid, Descent into chaos: the United States and the failure
of nation building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (New
York: Viking, 2008), 70, 69; citing Ahmed Rashid, “US Builds
Alliances in Central Asia,” Far Eastern Economic Review, May 1,
2000: “The CIA and the Pentagon had been closely collaborating with
the Uzbek army and secret services since 1997, providing training,
equipment, and mentoring in the hope of using Uzbek Special Forces
to snatch Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan, a fact I discovered on a
trip to Washington in 2000.”
Peter Dale Scott, “The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK,
Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan
Focus, November 21, 2011,.
Scott, The Road to 9/11: wealth, empire, and the future of America
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 9.
Estimates of annual spending on Homeland Security range up to a
trillion dollars. See Stephan Salisbury, “Weaponizing the Body
Politic,” TomDispatch.com, March 4, 2012,.
Cf. Simon Johnson, “Too Big to Jail,” Slate, February 24, 2012,:
“The main motivation behind the administration’s indulgence of
serious criminality evidently is fear of the consequences of taking
tough action on individual bankers. And maybe officials are right to
be afraid, given the massive size of the banks in question relative
to the economy. In fact, those banks are bigger now than they were
before the crisis, and, as James Kwak and I documented at length in
our book 13 Bankers, they are much larger than they were 20 years
John Farmer, The Ground Truth: the untold story of America under
attack on 9/11 (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009), 288; quoted in
Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, The Eleventh Day: the full story of
9/11 and Osama bin Laden (New York: Ballantine, 2011), 147.
Summers, Eleventh Day, 383-84; cf. Farmer, Ground Truth, 41.
Although a Democrat, Berger was subsequently protected by the
Republican Bush Administration from having to testify to Congress
about his behavior (a condition of his plea bargain).
Summers, Eleventh Day, 334.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 72-79. Grewe subsequently left
government to work at the Mitre Corp., a private firm doing CIA
contract work with the CIA and another private firm, Ptech.
Questions about Ptech and Mitre Corp’s work on FAA-NORAD
interoperability systems were raised in 9/11 testimony presented
some years ago by Indira Singh; see Scott, Road to 9/11, 175.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 78. Kirsten Wilhelm of the National
Archives told Fenton,(p. 78) that “It appears Barbara Grewe
conducted the interviews with ‘John’ [Wilshire] and Jane [Corsi],”
another key figure. Wilhelm could find no “memorandum for the
record” (MFR) for the Wilshire interview, which Fenton
understandably calls “about the most important interview the
Commission conducted” (p. 79). Summers, also citing correspondence
with Kirsten Wilhelm, disagrees, saying that the report of
Wilshire’s interview exists, but “is redacted in its entirety”
(Summers, Eleventh Day, 381, cf. 552). This is an important point to
be focused on in future investigations.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 225.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 38; citing 9/11 Commission Report,
Michelle has since been identified on the Internet, but so far
basically by only one source.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 42-45; summarizing Justice
Department IG Report, 239-42; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 311-12.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 50; summarizing Justice Department
IG Report, 242-43; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 311.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 45.
I do not know whether in fact they boarded the plane. However I am
now satisfied that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi acted as if they intended
to hijack, as evidenced by their al Qaeda contacts in Malaysia and
elsewhere, their attempts to learn to fly, etc. For the record, I am
not and never have been persuaded that Arabs steered the 9/11 planes
into their targets.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 383-86.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 48. Cf. Lawrence Wright, “The
Agent,” New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; quoted approvingly in
Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 399.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 239-42, 310-22. Fenton notes that
Corsi worked at FBI HQ, which coordinated “liaisons with foreign
services” (Fenton, 313).
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 310.
Parallel secret services
29 September 2012
Continuing his analysis,
Peter Dale Scott shows that liaison arrangements among the
intelligence agencies of allied countries gave rise to
parallel services and shadow operations.
This former Canadian diplomat
thereby reveals the method that allowed the September 11
plotters to employ means appertaining to the U.S. state
apparatus without the knowledge of other insiders.
The Liaison Agreements with
Other Intelligence Agencies
Initially, I believe, al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi may have been protected
because they had been sent to America by the Saudi GID intelligence service,
which would explain why after their arrival they were apparently bankrolled
indirectly by the Saudi embassy in Washington.
The facts are well summarized
by Paul Church in Asia Times Online (February 11, 2012):
Between 1998 and 2002, up to US$73,000 in cashier cheques was funneled by
[Saudi Ambassador Prince] Bandar’s wife Haifa - who once described the elder
Bushes as like "my mother and father" - to two Californian families known to
have bankrolled al-Midhar and al-Hazmi…
Princess Haifa sent regular
monthly payments of between $2,000 and $3,500 to Majeda Dweikat, wife of
Osama Basnan, believed by various investigators to be a spy for the Saudi
Many of the cheques were signed over to Manal Bajadr, wife of
Omar al-Bayoumi, himself suspected of covertly working for the kingdom. The
Basnans, the al-Bayoumis and the two 9/11 hijackers once shared the same
apartment block in San Diego. It was al-Bayoumi who greeted the killers when
they first arrived in America, and provided them, among other assistance,
with an apartment and social security cards.
He even helped the men enroll
at flight schools in Florida.” 
If the two Saudis were in fact sent by the GID, they would almost certainly
have been admitted to the U.S. under the terms of the liaison agreement
between the GID and the CIA. 
Prince Turki al-Faisal, former
head of the GID, has said that he shared his al Qaeda information with the
CIA, and that in 1997 the Saudis,
“established a joint intelligence committee
with the United States to share information on terrorism in general and
on… al Qaeda in particular.” 
The 9/11 Commission Report adds
that after a post-millennium review, the Counterterrorism Center (which
included Alec Station, the Bin Laden Unit) intended to proceed with its plan
of half a year earlier,
“building up the capabilities of foreign security
services that provided intelligence via liaison.” 
This was a Blee specialty.
Steve Coll reports that Richard Blee and his
superior Cofer Black, excited about the opportunities presented by liaison
arrangements for expanding the scope of CIA reach in critical regions, had
flown together into Tashkent in 1999, and negotiated a new liaison agreement
with Uzbekistan. 
According to Coll and the Washington Post,
this arrangement soon led, via Tashkent, to a CIA liaison inside Afghanistan
with the Northern Alliance. 
Thomas Ricks and Susan Glasser
reported in the Washington Post that, beginning after the embassy bombings
in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998,
“The United States and Uzbekistan have
quietly conducted joint covert operations aimed at countering Afghanistan’s
ruling Taliban regime and its terrorist allies… according to officials
from both nations.” 
This involvement in Uzbekistan was part of a wider regional pattern.
Beginning in 1997, the U.S. had begun a series of annual military maneuvers
with Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek forces, as exercises for possible deployment
of combat U.S. forces in the region.
CENTRAZBAT ’97, as it was known, was clearly a test of America’s ability to
project power into the Caspian basin in the event of a crisis.
“There is no
nation on the face of the earth that we cannot get to,” said General Jack
Sheehan… the highest-ranking officer to attend the exercise.
And, lest anyone
doubted the nature of our interests in the region, a deputy assistant
secretary of defense accompanying Sheehan, Catherine Kelleher, cited “the
presence of enormous energy resources” as a justification for American
The 1997 operation was the first in an annual series CENTRAZBAT exercises designed to test the speed with which Washington could
deploy U.S.-based forces directly to the region and commence combat
In other words, the Pentagon had been active in Uzbekistan for four years
before the public Rumsfeld-Karimov agreement of October 2001.
Speaking as a former junior diplomat, let me observe that a liaison
arrangement would probably have required special access clearances for those
privy to the arrangement and sharing the liaison information. 
This would explain the exclusion of the FBI agents who were not cleared for
this information, as well as the behavior of other non-cleared CIA agents
who proceeded to collect and disseminate information about the two alleged
hijackers. Alec Station needed both to protect the double identity of the
two Saudis, and to make sure that they were not embarrassingly detained by
Almost certainly the CIA had relevant liaison arrangements, not just with
the Saudi GID and Uzbekistan, but also with the Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) of Pakistan, as well as the intelligence services of Egypt, and
perhaps Yemen and Morocco.
In particular there is reason to think that Ali
Mohamed, a double agent who was protected by the FBI from being detained in
Canada, thus allowing him to help organize the al Qaeda embassy bombings of
1998, was permitted under such arrangements to enter the US as an agent of
foreign intelligence, probably Egyptian. 
Ali Mohamed figures
both in the content and as source of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) of
August 6, 2001, in which the CIA warned the president,
“Bin Ladin Determined
to Strike in US.”  According to Mohamed’s FBI handler, Jack
Cloonan, “all that information came from Ali,” while the PDB itself
attributes its key finding to what “an Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ)
operative told an [---] service.” 
(Ali Mohamed was
definitely EIJ, and this service was probably Egyptian.)
But when Mohamed, like al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, was inappropriately admitted
to the US, it was reportedly not by the CIA, but possibly by “some other
Federal agency.” 
This was very possibly a Pentagon agency, because from 1987 to 1989, Ali
Mohamed “was assigned to the U.S. [Army] Special Operations Command [SOCOM]
in Fort Bragg, the home of the Green Berets and the Delta Force, the elite
counterterrorism squad.” 
SOCOM, which includes JSOC (the
Joint Special Operations Command), has its own intelligence division;
 and SOCOM is the command that first mounted the Able Danger
program in 1999 to track al Qaeda operatives, and then, inexplicably, both
shut it down before 9/11 and destroyed its database. 
addition SOCOM was working in Uzbekistan with CIA operatives as a result of
the liaison agreement negotiated by Cofer Black and Richard Blee of the CTC.
For this and other reasons, I suggest reconceptualizing what Fenton calls
the anomalous “Alec Station group” as an inter-agency liaison team (or
teams) with special access clearances, including Alec Station personnel,
collaborating personnel in the FBI, and possibly SOCOM.
(One of these
collaborators was FBI agent Dina Corsi, who according to Fenton withheld
vital information from fellow agent Steve Bongardt even after the NSA had
cleared it for him.) 
Background: the Safari Club and William Casey
These arrangements can be traced in one form or another, at least back to
Then senior CIA officers and ex-officers (notably Richard Helms),
who were dissatisfied with the CIA cutbacks instituted under Jimmy Carter’s
CIA director, Stansfield Turner, organized an alternative network, the
so-called Safari Club.
Subordinated to intelligence chiefs from France,
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and (under the Shah) Iran, the Safari Club
provided a home to CIA officers like Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines,
who had been marginalized or fired by CIA Director Turner.
As Prince Turki
later explained, the purpose of
the Safari Club was not just to exchange
information, but to conduct covert operations that the CIA could no longer
carry out directly in the wake of the Watergate scandal and subsequent
In the 1980s, CIA Director William Casey made key decisions in the conduct
of the Afghan covert war, not through his own CIA bureaucracy but with the
Saudi intelligence chiefs, first Kamal Adham and then Prince Turki.
these decisions was the creation of a foreign legion to assist the Afghan mujahideen in their war against the Soviets - in other words, the creation
of that support network which, since the end of that war, we have known as
al Qaeda. 
Casey worked out the details with the two Saudi
intelligence chiefs, and also with the head of the Bank of Credit and
Commerce International (BCCI), the Saudi-Pakistani bank in which Adham and
Turki were both shareholders.
In so doing, Casey was in effect running a second or back-channel CIA,
building up the future al Qaeda in Pakistan with the Saudis, even though the
official CIA hierarchy underneath him in Langley rightly “thought this
In American War Machine, I situated the Safari Club
and BCCI in a succession of ”second CIA” or “alternative CIA” arrangements
dating back to the creation of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) in
1948. Thus it is relevant that CIA Director George Tenet, following Casey’s
precedent, met with Saudi Ambassador Bandar around once a month, and would
not tell CIA officers handling Saudi issues what he had discussed. 
Fenton himself invokes the example of the Safari Club in proposing the
possible explanation that Blee and Wilshire used a “parallel network” to
track al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi inside the United States. In his words,
“Withholding the information about Almihdhar and Alhazmi only makes sense if
the CIA was monitoring the two men in the US itself, either officially or
off the books.” 
But a third option would be that the GID was
monitoring their movements, a situation quite compatible with Saudi Prince
Bandar’s claim that Saudi security had been,
“actively following the
movements of most of the terrorists with precision.” 
Joseph and Susan Trento heard from a former CIA officer, once based in Saudi
Arabia, that “Both Hazmi and Mihdhar were Saudi agents.” 
so, they were clearly double agents, acting (or posing) as terrorists at the
same time they were acting (or posing) as informants. In espionage, double
agents are prized and often valuable; but to rely on them (as the example of
Ali Mohamed illustrates) can also be dangerous.
This was particularly the case for the CIA with respect to Saudi Arabia,
whose GID supported al Qaeda energetically in countries like Bosnia, in
exchange for a pledge (negotiated by Saudi Interior Minister Naif bin Abdul
Aziz with Osama bin Laden) that al Qaeda,
“would not interfere with the
politics of Saudi Arabia or any Arab country.” 
ISI was even more actively engaged with al Qaeda, and some elements of ISI
were probably closer to the ideological goals of al Qaeda, than to
Pakistan’s nominally secular government.
But in all cases the handling of illegal informants is not just dangerous
and unpredictable, but corrupting. To act their parts, the informants must
break the law; and their handlers, knowing this, must protect them by
failing to report them, and then, all too often, intercede to prevent their
arrest by others. In this way, handlers, over and over again, become
complicit in the crimes of their informants. 
Even in the best of circumstances, decisions have to be made whether to
allow an informant’s crime to go forward, or to thwart it and risk
terminating the usefulness of the informant. In such moments, agencies are
all too likely to make the choice that is not in the public interest.
A very relevant example is the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993 -
relevant because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, was
one of the 1993 plotters as well.
The FBI had an informant, Emad Salem,
among the 1993 plotters; and Salem later claimed, with supporting evidence
from tapes of his FBI debriefings, that the FBI deliberately chose not to
shut down the plot.
Here is Ralph Blumenthal’s careful account in the New
York Times of this precursor to the mystery of 9/11:
Law-enforcement officials [i.e. the FBI] were told that terrorists were
building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center,
and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless
powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.
The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the
fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had
other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the
The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape
recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents,
portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known
to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City’s tallest towers.
left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half
a billion dollars. Four men are now on trial in Manhattan Federal Court in
that attack. 
What makes the 1993 plot even more relevant is that Salem, according to many
sources, was an agent of the Egyptian intelligence service, sent to America
to spy on the actions of the Egyptian “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman.
This raises the possibility that the F.B.I. supervisor who had
“other ideas” about how to use Emad Salem, was a member of a liaison team,
with special knowledge he could not share with other FBI agents. It may have
been, for example, that the Egyptian intelligence service declined to let
Salem’s cover be blown.
This suggestion is both speculative and problematic,
but it has the advantage of offering a relatively coherent explanation for
otherwise baffling behavior.
This explanation does not at all rule out the possibility that some
officials had more sinister motives for allowing the bombing to take place
and covering it up afterwards. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was at this very
time a key figure in a sensitive Saudi program, signed on to by U.S.
officials as well, to supply mujahideen warriors in Bosnia against Serbia
(including some, like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who were later accused of the 9/11
It is clear from both investigative and prosecutorial
behavior that a number of different US agencies did not want to disturb
Rahman’s activities. Even after Rahman himself was finally indicted in the
1995 conspiracy case to blow up New York landmarks, the US Government
continued to protect Ali Mohamed, a key figure in the conspiracy.
Worse, the performance of the FBI in allowing the bombing to proceed was
only one of a series of interrelated bungled performances and missed
opportunities, climaxing with 9/11. The first was in connection with the
murder in New York of the Jewish extremist Meir Kahane. The FBI and NY
police actually detained two of the murderers in that case and then released
them, allowing them to take part in the WTC bombing of 1993.
A key trainer
of the two men was Ali Mohamed while still in U.S. Special Forces, whose
name was systematically protected from disclosure by the prosecuting
attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.
Then in 1994, when Ali Mohamed was detained in
Vancouver by the Canadian RCMP, the FBI intervened to arrange for his
release. This freed Mohamed to proceed to Kenya, where he became the lead
organizer of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi. 
Ali Mohamed was finally detained by the Americans in 1998, but still not
imprisoned. He was apparently still a free man when he readily confessed to
his FBI handler, Jack Cloonan, that he not only knew at least three of the
9/11 alleged hijackers, but had helped instruct them in how to hijack
According to Ali Soufan, in a book released in
September 2011, Ali Mohamed was still awaiting sentencing in 2011, twelve
years after his guilty plea in May 1999. 
We have to conclude that there is something profoundly dysfunctional going
on here, and has been going on since before 9/11, indeed under both
political parties. The conditions of secrecy created by special clearances
have not just masked this dysfunctionality; they have, I would argue, helped
create it. The history of espionage demonstrates that secret power, when
operating in the sphere of illegal activities, becomes, time after time,
antithetical to public democratic power. 
The more restricted
the group of special planners with special clearances, the less likely are
their decisions to conform with the dictates of international and domestic
law, still less with common morality and common sense.
Add to these conditions of unwholesome secrecy the fundamentally unhealthy,
indeed corrupt, relationship of U.S. intelligence agencies to those of Saudi
Arabia and Pakistan.
This has been profoundly anti-democratic both at home
and in Asia.
The US dependency on Saudi oil has in effect subsidized a
wealth-generated spread of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the world,
while what the 99.9 percent of ordinary Americans pay for oil and gas
generates huge sums, which Saudis then recycle into the financial
institutions of the one tenth of one percent at the pinnacle of Wall Street.
In like manner, America’s fraught relationship with the ISI of Pakistan has
resulted in a dramatic increase in international heroin trafficking by the
two agencies’ Afghan clients. 
In short the bureaucratic
dysfunction we are talking about in 9/11 is a symptom of a larger
dysfunction in America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan, and
through them with the rest of the world.
Liaison Agreements and
the Protection of Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi
Even without the suggestive precedent of the 1993 WTC bombing, it is
legitimate to posit that liaison agreements may have inhibited the roundup
of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
Let us consider first Fenton’s
finding of fact:
“It is clear that this information [about the two men] was
not withheld through a series of bizarre accidents, but intentionally.” 
This finding I consider rock hard. But we cannot be so confident
about his explanation: that “the purpose of withholding the information had
become to allow the attacks to go forward.” 
I believe that in fact there are a number of possibilities about the
intention, ranging from the relatively innocent (the inhibitions deriving
from a liaison agreement) to the nefarious. Before considering these, let us
deconstruct the notion of “letting the attacks go forward.”
Clearly, if the
alleged hijackers were not detained at the airport gates, people would
probably have been killed - but how many?
Recall that in the
Operation Northwoods documents, which envisaged planning “false flag” attacks to
justify a U.S. military intervention in Cuba, the Joint Chiefs wrote,
could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign” in which “We could sink a
boatload of Cubans.” 
Would the loss of four planeloads of
passengers have been a qualitatively different tragedy?
Of course 9/11 became a much greater tragedy when three of the planes hit
the two Towers and the Pentagon. But it is possible that the liaison minders
of the two Saudis did not imagine that their targets were capable of such a
feat. Recall that their flying lessons, even in a Cessna, were such a fiasco
that the lessons were quickly terminated.
Their instructor told them “that
flying was simply not for them.” 
Let me suggest that there are three separable ingredients to the 9/11
attacks: the hijackings, the strikes on the buildings, and the astonishing
collapse of the three WTC buildings. It is at least possible that the Alec
Station liaison team, as a group, contemplated only the first stage, without
ever imagining the two stages that ensued.
A minimal, least malign initial explanation for the withholding of
information about two of the alleged hijackers would be the hypothesis I
proposed in the case of Emad Salem - the restricted access created by the
special clearance for a liaison agreement. But just as in 1993, the secret
power created behind the wall of restrictive clearances may have been
exploited for ulterior purposes.
The dangerous situation thus created - of
potential would-be-hijackers being protected from detention at a time of
expected attack - may have inspired some to exploit the resulting conditions
of secrecy as an opportunity to plan an incident to justify war.
important analogy with the 1964 false Second Tonkin Gulf Incident that was
used to justify attacking North Vietnam is the same presence of a powerful
faction - in 2001 the PNAC clique inside government - that was bent on
unilateral military action. 
One clue to this more sinister intention is that the pattern of withholdings
detailed by Fenton is not restricted exclusively to the two Saudis and their
CIA station handlers. There are a few concatenating withholdings by other
agencies - above all the Able Danger info that was destroyed at SOCOM and
the withholding - apparently by NSA - of an important relevant intercept,
apparently about the alleged hijackers and Moussaoui. 
If the NSA was withholding information from relevant officials, it would
recall the role of the NSA at the time of the second Tonkin Gulf Incident in
August 1964. Then the NSA, at a crucial moment, forwarded 15 pieces of
SIGINT (signals intelligence) which indicated - falsely - that there had
been a North Vietnamese attack on two US destroyers.
At the same time NSA
withheld 107 pieces of SIGINT which indicated - correctly - that no North
Vietnamese attack had occurred. 
NSA’s behavior at that time
was mirrored at
both agencies were aware of a powerful consensus
inside the Johnson administration that had already agreed on provoking North
Vietnam, in hopes of creating an opportunity for military response.
We know from many accounts of the Bush administration that there was also a
powerful pro-war consensus within it, centered on Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the
so-called cabal of
PNAC (the Project for the New American Century) that
before Bush’s election had been lobbying vigorously for military action
We know also that Rumsfeld’s immediate response to 9/11 was to
propose an attack on Iraq, and that planning for such an attack was indeed
instituted on September 17. 
It is worth considering whether
some of those protecting the alleged hijackers from detention did not share
these warlike ambitions. 
The 9/11 Commission Report discounted the importance of al-Bayoumi
(217-18); but the Report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into
9/11 (173-77), even though very heavily redacted at this point,
supplied corroborating information, including a report that Basnan
had once hosted a party for the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdurrahman,
involved in the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993.
At first I suspected, as have others, that the two men were Saudi
double agents. Another possibility is that they were sent as
designated targets, to be surveilled by the Saudis and the Americans
separately or together. One of my few disagreements with Fenton is
when he calls al-Mihdhar “one of [the hijackers’] most experienced
operatives” (Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 205). My own impression
is that he was either an inexperienced and incompetent spy, or else
someone deliberately exposing himself to detection, in order to test
Summers, Eleventh Day, 396.
9/11 Commission Report, 184.
Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan,
and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New
York: Penguin, 2004), 456-57.
Thomas E. Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, October 14,
Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, October 14, 2001; cf.
Michael Klare, Blood and Oil (New York: Metropolitan Books/ Henry
Holt, 2004), 135-36; citing R. Jeffrey Smith, “U.S. Leads
Peacekeeping Drill in Kazakhstan,” Washington Post, September 15,
1997. CF. Kenley Butler, “U.S. Military Cooperation with the Central
Asian States,” September 17, 2001,.
In 1957, I myself, as a junior Canadian diplomat, acquired a special
access, higher-than-top-secret clearance to access intelligence from
NATO, a relatively overt and straightforward liaison.
For the Ali Mohamed story, see Scott, Road to 9/11, especially
Scott, Road to 9/11, 158; citing John Berger, “Unlocking 9/11:
Paving the Road to 9/11”: ”Mohamed was one of the primary
sources for the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily brief
(PDB) entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’” The PDB,
often cited as an example of the CIA’s good performance, is in my
opinion more probably another example of the Bin Laden Unit salting
the record in preparation for post-9/11 scrutiny. The PDB, without
naming Ali Mohamed, refers to him no less than three times as a
threat, despite the fact that at the time he was under USG control
awaiting sentence for his role in the 1998 embassy plots. The PDB,
in other words, appears to have been a performance for the record,
analogous to Wilshire’s performance in the same month of August at
John Berger, Ali Mohamed, 20 (Cloonan); 9/11 Commission Report, 261
James Risen, New York Times, October 31, 1998; in Scott, Road to
Raleigh News and Observer, November 13, 2001; in Scott, Road to
9/11, 347. I have added the word “Army.” The HQ for USSOCOM itself
is at Fort MacDill Air Force Vase in Florida.
Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, “‘Top Secret America’: A look at
the military’s Joint Special Operations Command,” Washington Post,
September 2, 2011,.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 168-69; Summers, Eleventh Day, 371,
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 372.
Scott, American War Machine, 161; Scott, Road to 9/11, 62-63.
Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, oil, and fundamentalism in
Central Asia (New Haven CT: Yale UP, 2000), 129.
John Prados, Safe for Democracy, 489; discussion in Scott, American
War Machine, 12-13.
James Risen, State of War: the secret history of the CIA and the
Bush administration (New York: Free Press, 2006), 188-89.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 104.
Summers, Eleventh Day, 397.
Joseph J. and Susan B. Trento, in Summers, Eleventh Day, 399. Since
I presented this paper at a conference in Toronto on September 11,
2011, “Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the … 9/11
Commission, [has] said in a sworn affidavit … that ‘significant
questions remain unanswered’ about the role of Saudi institutions.
‘Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi
government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully
pursued,’ Mr. Kerrey said” (“Saudi Arabia May Be Tied to 9/11, 2
Ex-Senators Say,” New York Times, February 29, 2001, ).
Wright, Looming Tower, 161; in Summers, Eleventh Day, 216.
Such corruption is predictable and very widespread. In the notorious
cases of Gregory Scarpa and Whitey Bulger, FBI agents in the New
York and Boston offices were accused of giving their mob informants
information that led to the murder of witnesses and other opponents.
Agents in the New York office of the old Federal Bureau of Narcotics
became so implicated in the trafficking of their informants that the
FBN had to be shut down and reorganized.
Ralph Blumenthal, “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in
Trade Center Blast,” New York Times, October 28, 1993, emphasis
added. The next day, the Times published a modest correction:
“Transcripts of tapes made secretly by an informant, Emad A. Salem,
quote him as saying he warned the Government that a bomb was being
built. But the transcripts do not make clear the extent to which the
Federal authorities knew that the target was the World Trade Center.
Scott, Road to 9/11, 145.
Peter Dale Scott, "Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of
Washington’s On-Going Collusion with Terrorists," Asia-Pacific
Journal: Japan Focus, July 29, 2011,
http://japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-S.... Evan Kohlmann has
described how a Zagreb office in support of the Saudi-backed jihad
in Bosnia received “all orders and funding directly from the main
United States office of Al-Kifah on Atlantic Avenue controlled by
Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman” (Evan Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in
Europe, 39-41; citing Steve Coll and Steve LeVine, “Global Network
Provides Money, Haven,” Washington Post, August 3, 1993).
Scott, Road to 9/11, 153, 347; citing “Canada freed
top al-Qaeda operative,” Toronto Globe and Mail, November 22, 2001,
Scott, Road to 9/11, 151-59.
Ali Soufan, The Black Banners, 94-95, 561.
The corruption appears to be inevitable in superpowers – states
which have accumulated power in access of what is needed for their
own defense. The pattern is less discernible in less powerful states
"America’s Afghanistan: The National Security and a Heroin-Ravaged
State," Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, #20, 2009, May 18, 2009,.
Cf. “U.S. looks into Afghan air force drug allegations,” CNN, March
8, 2012,: “The United States is investigating allegations that
some members of the Afghan air force have used their planes to
transport drugs, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday.
Investigators want to know whether the
drug-running allegations, first reported in the
Wall Street Journal, are linked to the shooting deaths last year
of eight U.S. Air Force officers at the airport in the Afghan
capital, Kabul. ‘The allegations of improper use of AAF aircraft is
being looked into,’ said Lt. Col. Tim Stauffer, referring to the
allegations that Afghan air force equipment has been used to
illegally ferry drugs and arms.”
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 310.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.
Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case
II),” in Scott, American War Machine, 196.
Washington Post, September 30, 2001; in Summers, Eleventh Day, 293;
cf. 9/11 Commission Report, 221-22.
See Scott, American War Machine, 199-203.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 360-61, 385. There was also apparent
withholding of information at a high level in the US Joint Forces
Command (USJFCOM): “One official who attended the DO5 [a USJFCOM
intelligence unit assigned to watch terrorism against the US]
briefing was Vice Adm. Martin J. Meyer, the deputy commander in
chief (DCINC), USJFCOM ….. But despite the red flags raised during
the briefing ,
Meyer reportedly told Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, the commander of
the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), and other
high-level CONR staffers two weeks before the 9/11 attacks that
‘their concern about Osama bin Laden as a possible threat to America
was unfounded and that, to repeat, “If everyone would just turn off
CNN, there wouldn’t be a threat from Osama bin Laden”’
" (Jeffery Kaye and Jason Leopold, “EXCLUSIVE: New Documents Claim
Intelligence on Bin Laden, al-Qaeda Targets Withheld From Congress’
9/11 Probe,” Truthout, June 13, 2011,).
Scott, American War Machine, 201.
Scott, American War Machine, 200-02.
Clarke, Against All Enemies, 30-33; Summers, Eleventh Day, 175-76;
James Bamford, A Pretext for War, 287.
Mark Selden has described the pattern of “arousing nationalist
passions as a result of attacks out of the blue” as one which has
“undergirded the American way of war since 1898” (Mark Selden, “The
American Archipelago of Bases, Military Colonization and Pacific
Empire: Prelude to the Permanent Warfare State,” forthcoming, 2012,
International Journal of Okinawan Studies).
Intelligence cooking by the Deep State
4 October 2012
In the third and final part of
his study, Peter Dale Scott shows that several
administrations participated in the concoction of the
official version of the 9/11 events, either by fabricating
evidence, or by withholding information.
In doing so, the
former Canadian diplomat brings to light the role of U.S.
institutions deeply buried within the State, unknown to the
Did Richard Blee Have
an Ulterior Motive for Withholding Information?
Fenton speculates that one of those seeking a pretext for an escalated war
against al Qaeda may have been Richard Blee.
We saw that Blee, with Cofer
Black, negotiated an intelligence-sharing liaison agreement with Uzbekistan.
By 2000 SOCOM had become involved, and,
“U.S. Special Forces began to work
more overtly with the Uzbek military on training missions.” 
In the course of time the Uzbek liaison agreement, as we saw, expanded into
a subordinate liaison with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Blee,
meeting with Massoud in October 1999, agreed to lobby in Washington for more
active support for the Northern Alliance. 
After the USS Cole bombing in Aden in 2000, Blee was pushing to expand the
Uzbek military mission still further into a joint attack force in
conjunction with the Northern Alliance forces of Massoud. There was
considerable objection to this while Clinton was still president, partly on
the grounds that Massoud was fighting Pakistani-backed Taliban forces with
Russian and Iranian support, and partly because he was known to be
supporting his forces by heroin trafficking. 
But in the
spring of 2001 a meeting of department deputies in the new Bush
administration revived the plans of Blee and Black, (supported by
Counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke) for large-scale covert aid to Massoud.
On September 4, one week before 9/11, the Bush Cabinet authorized
the drafting of a new presidential directive, NSPD-9, authorizing a covert
action program along these lines in conjunction with Massoud. 
In the new Bush administration Blee was no longer a minority voice, and six
weeks after 9/11 he would be named the new CIA station chief in Kabul.
Fenton reports that in this capacity Blee became involved in the
rendition of al Qaeda detainees, and suggests that the motive may have been
to obtain, by torture, a false confession (by Ibn Shaikh al-Libi) to Iraqi
involvement with al Qaeda.
This false confession then became part of the
“fixing” of evidence, and,
“formed a key part of Secretary of State Colin
Powell’s embarrassing presentation to the UN to support the invasion of
Did SOCOM Have an
Ulterior Motive for Closing Down Able Danger?
What ensued after 9/11 went far beyond Blee’s program for paramilitary CIA
involvement with the Northern Alliance.
The CIA component in Afghanistan was
soon dwarfed by the forces of SOCOM: George Tenet reported that by late 2001
the US force in Afghanistan consisted of about 500 fighters, including,
CIA officers, 316 Special Forces personnel, and scores of Joint Special
Operations Command raiders creating havoc behind enemy lines.” 
In the Bush administration Stephen Cambone, who earlier had collaborated
with Rumsfeld and Cheney in signing the PNAC’s statement,
Rebuilding America's Defenses, became one of the active promoters of using SOCOM
special forces to operate covertly against al Qaeda, not just in
Afghanistan, but “anywhere in the world.” 
It is possible that anything Blee may have done in Alec Station to prepare
the way for 9/11 was only one part of a larger inter-agency operation, in
which an equivalent role was played by SOCOM’s shutting down of the Able
This might help explain a handwritten notation around 10 PM
on 9/11 by Stephen Cambone, then one of Cheney’s PNAC appointees under
Rumsfeld in the Pentagon, after a phone call with George Tenet:
AA 77 - 3 indiv[iduals] have been followed since Millennium & Cole 1 guy is
assoc[iate] of Cole bomber 2 entered US in early July (2 of 3 pulled aside &
The “guy” here is probably al-Mihdhar, and the “Cole bomber” probably
Khallad [or Tawfiq] bin Attash, a major al Qaeda figure connected not just
to the Cole bombing but also to the 1998 embassy attacks.
One wants to know
why Tenet was sharing with a hawk in the Pentagon information that has
apparently never been shared by anyone outside the CIA since. And is it a
coincidence that Cambone, like Blee, oversaw a program - in this case
staffed by SOCOM special operations personnel - using torture to interrogate
detainees in Afghanistan? 
Just as Blee was reportedly a special protégé of George Tenet at CIA, so
Cambone was notorious for his fierce loyalty to first Dick Cheney and later
Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon. It is not known whether he was associated
with the Continuity of Government (COG) planning project where Rumsfeld and
Cheney, among others, prepared for the warrantless surveillance and
detention measures that were (as I have argued elsewhere) implemented
beginning on the morning of 9/11 and continuing to today. 
Nor is it known if he was associated in any way with Cheney’s
Counterterrorism Task Force in the Spring of 2001, which has been alleged to
have been a source for the war games, including rogue plane attacks, which
added to the disarray of the US response, on 9/11. 
Deep Events as a Repeated Pattern of U.S. Engagement in War
I want to conclude with a little historical perspective on the dysfunction
we have been looking at.
In a sense 9/11 was unprecedented - the greatest
mass murder ever committed in one day on U.S. soil. In another sense it
represented an example of the kind of signature event with which we have
become only too familiar since the Kennedy assassination.
I have called
these events deep events - events deeply rooted in illegal covert activity
in various branches of US intelligence and with a predictable accompanying
pattern of official cover-ups backed up by amazing media malfunction and
dishonest best-selling books. Some of these deep events, like the Kennedy
assassination, Tonkin Gulf, and 9/11, should be considered structural deep
events, because of their permanent impact on history.
It is striking that these structural deep events - the JFK assassination,
Tonkin Gulf, and 9/11 - should all have been swiftly followed by America’s
engagement in ill-considered wars.
The reverse is also true: all of
America’s significant wars since Korea - Laos, Vietnam, Afghanistan (twice,
once covertly and now overtly), and Iraq - have all been preceded by
structural deep events.
As I wrote in American War Machine, a J-5 Staff
Report of 1963 reported to the Joint Chiefs that,
“The engineering of a
series of provocations to justify military intervention is feasible and
could be accomplished with the resources available.” 
Gulf, 9/11, and even the Kennedy assassination itself can all be seen as
events that were indeed “engineered,” along the guidelines set out in 1962
in the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposals for Project Northwoods. 
In two recent books I have been slowly persuaded, against my own initial
incredulity, to list more than a dozen significant parallels between the
Kennedy assassination and 9/11. Thanks to Kevin Fenton’s brilliant research,
I can list a further analogy.
The CIA files on Lee Harvey Oswald, more or
less dormant for two years, suddenly became hyperactive in the six weeks
before the Kennedy assassination.
Fenton has demonstrated a similar burst of
activity in FBI files on the two Saudis in the weeks before 9/11 - a burst
initiated by Tom Wilshire, at a time suspiciously close to when the alleged
hijackers settled on a final date for their attack.
Then in both cases there
were also strange delays, leaving the files open at the time of the deep
The Impact of 9/11 on U.S.
and International Law
Throughout this essay we have seen two different and indeed antithetical
levels of U.S. foreign policy at work.
On the surface level of public
diplomacy we see a commitment to international law and the peaceful
resolution of differences. On a deeper level, represented by a long-time
Saudi connection and covert arrangements to control international oil, we
see the toleration and indeed protection of terrorists in fulfillment of
both Saudi and American secret goals.
We should see the actions in 2000-2001
of the “Alec Station group,” with respect to the two alleged hijackers al-Mihdhar
and al-Hazmi, in the context of this long-time Saudi connection, as well as
of the secret consensus in 2001 - just as earlier in 1964 - that America’s
oil and security needs (along with those of Israel) required a new American
mobilization for war.
Horrendous as it was, the murder of over 2000 civilians on 9/11 was not the
only major crime of that day. 9/11 also initiated a series of on-going
onslaughts on both international and domestic U.S. law. Law and freedom go
together, and both had been significantly enhanced by the founding documents
of the United States in the 18th Century.
The world benefited; written
constitutions soon appeared on every continent; and the Young Europe
movements, inspired by America’s example, began the long difficult process
towards today’s European Union.
Starting in 2001, both law and freedom have been progressively eroded.
International comity, which depends on each state not doing to others what
they would not want done to them, has been supplanted, at least for a while,
by U.S. unilateral military engagement without constraint, acting without
fear of retribution.
Drone killings in far corners of the world have now
become routine, causing more than an estimated 2000 Pakistani deaths, the
vast majority of them untargeted civilians, and over 75 percent of them
under President Obama. 
The preemptive war against Iraq,
despite being proven both unwarranted and counterproductive, has been
followed by the preemptive bombing of Libya, and the prospect of still
further campaigns against Syria and Iran.
Writing as a Canadian, let me say that I believe in American exceptionalism,
and that at one time America was truly exceptional in its unprecedented
replacement of authoritarian with limited constitutional government.
America is still exceptional, but for its percentage of citizens who are
incarcerated, for its disparity in wealth and income between rich and poor
(a ratio exceeded among large nations only by China), and for its wanton use
of lethal power abroad.
Only the last of these trends began with 9/11.
But 9/11 itself should be
seen as a dialectical outcome of America’s imperial expansion and
simultaneous decay - a process inevitably afflicting those superstates that
amass and retain more power than is necessary for the orderly management of
their own affairs.
Thomas E. Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, October 14,
2001,. Significantly, the proposal for a joint attack force with
Massoud’s Northern Alliance was also resisted by Massoud himself
(Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 597-98, 796n25). The problem
of Massoud’s resistance to an American troop presence vanished when
he was assassinated on September 9, 2011, two days before 9/11.
Coll, Ghost Wars, 467-69.
Coll, Ghost Wars, 513, 534-36, 553.
Coll, Ghost Wars, 558.
Coll, Ghost Wars, 573-74.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 108.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 110-14.
George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm: my years at the CIA (New
York: HarperCollins, 2007), 255.
Jeremy Scahill, “Shhhhhh! JSOC is Hiring Interrogators and Covert
Operatives for ’Special Access Programs,’” Nation, August 25, 2010,.
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 127-30; Summers, Eleventh Day,
Jason Vest, “Implausible Denial II,” Nation, May 31, 2004,.
Peter Dale Scott, "Is the State of Emergency Superseding our
Constitution? Continuity of Government Planning, War and American
Society," November 28, 2010,.
Scott, Road to 9/11, 216-18.
Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case
II),” Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 1, 1963,
NARA #202-10002-10018, 21,; Scott, American War Machine, 193,
Scott, American War Machine, 195-205; Northwoods document, Joint
Chiefs of Staff Central Files 1962-63, p. 178, NARA Record #
Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 283-355; Scott, War Conspiracy,
Jason Ditz, “Report: CIA Drones Killed Over 2,000, Mostly Civilians
in Pakistan Since 2006,” AntiWar.com, January 2, 2011,
Cf. Karen DeYoung, “Secrecy defines Obama’s drone war,” Washington
Post, December 19, 2011, (“hundreds of strikes over three years
- resulting in an estimated 1,350 to 2,250 deaths in Pakistan”).