Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It was a very bad year

In the year 2013
It was a very bad year
It was a very bad year
For global warning and climate change
With all its twisters and storms
And the earth forlorn
In the year 2013.

It was a no good very bad year for the environment. Two massive EF-5 twisters it Oklahoma in May killing 24 and 19 people respectively. In November over 5,700 people were killed by one of the biggest and most vicious storms ever to hit hand: Typhoon Haiyan. Due to the warming oceans, we're expected to see fewer but bigger typhoons in the Pacific Ocean. The ocean temperature continue to rise. The Arctic and Antarctic continue to melt as well as glaciers continue to retreat worldwide.

At any moment, we could hit a "tipping point" where global warming becomes an unstoppable runaway train. Also called the "snowball effect" as a snowball increases size and speed as it rolls uncontrolled down a mountain.

Here's a shocker: Most estimates of global warming has been significantly underestimated by neglecting the Arctic due to the Arctic warming significantly faster than other parts of the globe. The reason the data was omitted in the first place was that it was not readily available. See the following video:

The end result is that, "global surface temperatures have actually risen about two and a half times faster over the past 15 years than previously estimated." Also, "the planet has been accumulating over 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations worth of energy per second...since 1998." Source.

Global land and ocean surface temperatures for November 2013 was the highest on record which doesn't mean much by itself but it's a typical statistic. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

It was a bad year for animals, especially smaller, lower down on the food chain that serve as canaries in the coal mines: honey bees, butterflies, frogs and amphibians, and birds. Bees and butterflies play an important part of pollination of flowers, plants and food crops. See:
Finally, more carbon in the atmosphere means more carbon in the oceans which means the oceans become more acidic. From 9 Incredibly Important Things That Happened In 2013 That Most People Aren’t Talking About
6. The oceans changed dramatically, transforming into an acidic stew inhospitable to marine life.

Much of the conversation about climate change focuses on rising temperatures. But carbon dioxide emissions is rapidly making the oceans inhospitable for marine life. Why? According to studies “the ocean absorbs about 30 to 40 percent of the atmosphere’s excess carbon, causing its pH to drop.” These acidity levels can corrode the shells of crustaceans, and have lead to an explosion in jelly fish populations. One Oregon fisherman reported, “Sometimes we’ll catch 4,000 or 5,000 pounds of jellyfish.” Another fisherman said that “he saw baby octopuses climbing up his crab line to escape the water. When he pulled up his crab trap, all the crabs were dead.”
Related posts:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why societies collapse— and what it means for us

Dr. Joseph Tainter, author of Collapse of Complex Societies, explains why societies collapse. In a nutshell, they become complex for a good reason but in the end that complexity causes the society to collapse. Much confusion can be avoided if you understand that Tainter uses the term "sustainability" not as we generally understand it but to mean "maintainability" as in maintaining the same standard of living. A couple of things that Tainter doesn't touch on is overpopulation and that the entire world can be seen as one empire compromising world elites and led by US elites and the US military.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Evo Morales

Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma spoke at the UN on September 25, 2013. He had some interesting things to say:
"You do not combat terrorism with more military spending or by training more military forces.  As far as I know you fight terrorism with social policies, not with military bases, you fight it with religious tolerance, with more democracy, more equality, more justice and more education.

"What peace can we speak of when military spending sacrifices the human rights of our peoples? How is it possible, when there are so many unemployed, for your (US) government,  for your president, to spend 700 billion dollars on the military? It is not possible for these huge amounts of money to be spent on the military and on espionage when there are so many brothers and sisters in the United States without homes, without jobs, without schooling. I simply cannot understand how they can spend so much money to interfere in other countries while leaving their own unprovided for."— From OpEdNews
Watch and listen to the English translation here:
UN News Center

The story of solutions

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Insanity seemed to be the word of the week:
Honorable mention:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Before we take military action in Syria...

...a trip down memory lane for those of us with short memories.
Jumping back to the present. Assad would be absolutely crazy to use chemical weapons knowing that it would only invite the full wrath of the US military upon Syria. Assad vehemently denies using chemical weapons (source)  and challenges the US to produce credible evidence (source). I want credible evidence too and not just hearsay from Israeli intelligence.

Also, see this interactive map of Syria and its neighbors: Syrian civil war: Not just about Syria

My previous entry on Syria: US positioning to invade Syria 


There are other reports demanding proof of chemical weapons. Not that some of us really care if Assad used chemical weapons or not. The US entering another war would just be another US disaster:

I have a dream

Celebrating the 50th year anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have a dream speech:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Military dictatorship in Egypt after military coup

Video out of Egypt. Not suitable for all ages:
Even though the US has condemned the violence by the military in Egypt, the US is supporting the military coup and continues to financially aid the military to the tune of $1.3 billion each year. And antidemocratic US support to counties like Egypt leads to this:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Who’s Terrorizing Who? In Yemen, America Is The Terrorist

by Rania Khalek on August 7, 2013

reposted from: raniakhalek.com

Nonstop fear mongering by lawmakers and White House officials about the allegedly growing threat of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has pushed Yemen into the national spotlight as a country synonymous with terrorism. Yemen is home to the scary bearded terrorists that want to kill our innocent American children, or so the mainstream narrative goes. But contrary to popularly indoctrinated opinion, if anyone is a terrorist in this scenario, it is us, the United States.
For years, Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries that’s facing a child hunger crisis, has lived under the paralyzing threat of U.S. drone strikes. Yemenis have watched their neighbors, mothers, fathers, grandparents and children blown to pieces by U.S. bombs all in the name of fighting terrorism. The end result is that the U.S. government is terrorizing the people of Yemen and creating more enemies in the process.
Over the past two weeks alone, the U.S. has unleashed five drone strikes on Yemen, claiming to have killed around 20 suspected militants. US and Yemeni officials even bragged that the latest drone strike thwarted a terrorist plot to seize control of two major cities in Yemen and bomb oil and gas pipelines. But, according to the New York Daily News, the plot “was meant as payback for the killing of senior al Qaeda official Said al-Shihri in a November drone attack.” (Al-Shihri was labeled AQAP’s number two man at the time. Haven’t we killed their number two guy like five times already? Oh right, militants are easily replaceable.)
Blowback is a significant though rarely discussed aspect of the U.S. war on terror, especially in regard to drone strikes. Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill has long warned that U.S. counterterrorism policy in Yemen serves as a primary recruiting tool for Al Qaeda . Why? Because drones strikes don’t just terrorize, they make people, particularly those who’ve lost innocent loved ones, really fucking angry. And who can blame them?
Speaking to a Senate Judiciary Committee in April on the legality of drone strikes, a Yemeni man named Farea Al-Muslimi explained the roots of blowback in Yemen.  “Just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers,” said Al-Muslimi,
“What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.” Al-Muslimi said he had witnessed “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula use US strikes to promote its agenda and try to recruit more terrorists.”
If that’s not enough to convince you that we’re creating enemies, consider the aftermath of a drone strike last September that  killed 13 civilians in Yemen:
Families of the victims closed main roads and vowed to retaliate. Hundreds of angry armed gunmen joined them and gave the government a 48-hour deadline to explain the killings, which took place on Sunday.
“You want us to stay quiet while our wives and brothers are being killed for no reason. This attack is the real terrorism,” said Mansoor al-Maweri, who was near the scene of the strike.
Residents are not denying the existence of al Qaeda elements in their region but say that misdirected strikes work in favor of the militant group, helping them recruit new operatives.
“I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake,” said Nasr Abdullah, an activist in the district of the attack. “This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously.”
This doesn’t mean that Yemenis love Al Qaeda, it’s quite the opposite. But compared to the threat of U.S. drone strikes, AQAP isn’t their primary concern according to Hakim Almasmari, an American journalist based in Yemen. Almasmari told the Huffington Post yesterday that, ”The Yemeni people are not afraid of al Qaeda, because al Qaeda will always fight and attack soldiers and troops and militants. They will never attack civilians. Whereas the drones at times will attack civilians — like in the last 10 days, out of the 13 who were killed, three were civilians.”
Almasmari continued, “Yesterday all night you had drones flying all over Sana’a, and this was very worrying. People were at home sitting and afraid that this could go wrong like it went wrong earlier years ago when tens of civilians were killed in previous drone strikes.”
In the winter of 2009, a U.S. airstrike on al-Majala in southern Yemen wiped out entire families, killing 41 civilians including five pregnant women and 22 children, the youngest just a year old.
Mohammed Nasser Awad Jaljala, 60, his 30-year-old wife Nousa, their son Nasser, 6, and daughters Arwa, 4, and Fatima, aged 2, were all killed.
Then there was 35-year old Ali Mohammed Nasser Jaljala, his wife Qubla (25), and their four daughters Afrah (9), Zayda (7), Hoda (5) and Sheikha (4) who all died.
Ahmed Mohammed Nasser Jaljala, 30, was killed alongside his 21-year old wife Qubla and 50-year old mother Mouhsena. Their daughter Fatima, aged 13, was the only survivor of the family, badly injured and needing extensive medical treatment abroad.
The Anbour clan suffered similarly catastrophic losses. Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye died with his wife, son and three daughters. His brother Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye’s seven-strong family were also wiped out.
Sheik Saleh Ben Fareed, a tribal leader, went to the area shortly after the attack and described the carnage to Al Jazeera reporter Scahill: ‘If somebody has a weak heart, I think they will collapse. You see goats and sheep all over. You see heads of those who were killed here and there. You see children. And you cannot tell if this meat belongs to animals or to human beings. Very sad, very sad.’

Three unnamed victims of the December 17, 2009 strike (Al Jazeera / Bureau of Investigative Reporting)
In case watching one’s family blasted to death isn’t enough, drone strike victims must now think twice before rushing to the scene of an attack to help the wounded in case of a “double-tap“, a follow-up strike that targets rescuers and mourners and is  a war crime according to UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Christof Heyns.
A recently released report on U.S. drone strikes in Yemen by Alkarama, a Swiss-based human rights organization, and HOOD, an organization of Yemeni lawyers and activists, provides a window into the cruelty of the double-tap.
On May 15, 2012, Abdallah Saleh Hussein witnessed a missile attack on the home of 33-year-old Nawir Abdallah Al-’Arshani that killed him and injured several others.
“After the first strike, I rushed to the scene with my son Muhammed, just like dozens of other people,” said Saleh Hussein. “We were trying to assist the victims when suddenly a second attack took place. I saw many bodies shredded.” About 15 minutes after the initial strike, an aircraft came back and fired several more strikes, killing 13 men and one woman and injuring dozens, including Saleh Hussein’s son.  ”My son was hit by bomb fragments in the stomach and neck. He died quickly.”
Fear of being killed in a secondary strike prevented onlookers from immediately assisting the wounded, causing one man to die from his injuries.

Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber (Bureau of Investigative Reporting)
This death and destruction has long-lasting impacts on Yemenis. Al Jazeera described the long-term trauma of a U.S. drone strike that killed Sheik Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, 49, a Yemeni cleric and father of seven.Salem preached loudly against the type of extremism exhibited by Al Qaeda, which his family feared would invite violent retribution from Al Qaeda linked militants. But in the end, it was U.S. violence that ended Salem’s life.
Salem’s brother-in-law, Faisal Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, 54, recounted the drone strike that killed Salem last year and its aftermath:
“It was after the evening prayer and I was sitting on my balcony,” Faisal said, recalling that moment. “There was a light and then a big noise – I thought the mountains would fall.”
Four drone strikes in total, a few minutes apart, violently tore Salem, Walid and the three visitors to shreds. Amidst the pandemonium, villagers cowering inside the mosque ran out for safety between strikes, believing they would die inside.
“You cannot imagine what we found,” said Faisal, drawing a slow, deep breath as he described the nighttime chaos that followed. “We found body parts scattered everywhere. We tried to collect them all, and brought them to the mosque to wrap in white cloth.”
The repercussions were devastating. The villagers marched the next day, chanting: “Obama, why do you spill our blood?” But President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi met their pleas for answers with silence.
Salem’s mother died two weeks later apparently from shock. Faisal’s sister Hayat, the mother of Walid, refuses to leave her home, and said she is “waiting to join my son”. Faisal’s daughter Heba was so stricken with fear she didn’t leave her home for twenty days. She still needs psychiatric care.
“The people in the village are so afraid now,” Faisal sighed. “Everything has changed. They think they can be killed anywhere.”
But drone strikes don’t always miss their targets. But even when Al Qaeda-linked militants are killed, the surrounding community isn’t spared.
One such incident took place in Azzan, a city of 6,000 inhabitants, where militants have battled the government for control since 2011 (the region is rich and oil and gas but economically deprived). The U.S. military  backed the Yemeni government offensive “with air raids and drone strikes, killing dozens of members of armed groups designated as ‘officers,’ as well as many civilians creating an exodus of thousands of inhabitants,” according to the Alkarama and HOOD report.  So basically the U.S. was killing people on behalf of the Yemeni government in a conflict that had nothing to do with the U.S.
On March 30, 2012,  a series of drone strikes in Azzan killed two members of Al Qaeda and a 60-year-old man walking close by. Five children playing near the strike zone were injured by shrapnel.
“I was sitting with my friends there, and we were going to play football, when suddenly we were shaken by the sound of a violent explosion. I looked in front of me and saw a car burning. A missile had struck it,” said 13-year-old Amin Ali Hassan Al-Wisabi. “Shrapnel hit me in my foot, but I didn’t feel any pain, and I ran towards the house with blood flowing from my injury. I saw the car burning beside me and one of my friends lost consciousness. Someone came with a car and took us to the hospital.”
Imagine how traumatic such an experience would be for a child to process. This is what we’re putting Yemeni children through regularly. Is it any wonder, then, that there are groups out there vowing revenge on America?
*On a side note, I realize it can be difficult for “Westerners” to empathize with poor brown people on the other side of the world whose names are difficult to pronounce, especially when they’re being demonized in the media. But please keep in mind that Yemenis are human beings who feel joy and pain just like you, they just happen to live in a part of the world that’s on the receiving end of U.S. imperialism.

The R word

From The Daily Show Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bradley Manning court-martial: The good, the bad and the ugly

The good - Bradley Manning was found not guilty of "aiding the enemy." Now, the trial moves to the sentencing phase where he could possibly garner some empathy from the judge.

The bad - Bradley Manning was convicted of 20/22 charges. This is the first time that a whistleblower was successfully convicted of espionage (technically violating the Espionage Act). Manning pretrial treatment was grounds for a mistrial consisting of stress positions and "white torture" including solitary confinement (sensory deprivation), forced to sleep naked without a blanket or pillow and other sensory deprivation and over-stimulation techniques. Bradley Manning was held incognito for three years without a trial. President Obama had declared publicly that Manning broke the law while being held in detention. All pretrial treatment should have been automatic grounds for a mistrial for someone who hadn't been convicted of a crime.

The trial was secret and the physical court was small. A court stenographer was not provided. The mainstream media largely ignored the trial although they were shamed into showing up once in a while. His defense was barred from arguing his motives, that no harm was done to national security, International Law and Nuremberg principles or upholding the Constitutional (the highest law of the land). He now faces up to 136 years in prison. The good news is that he is now able to argue these things in the sentencing phase of the trial.

The ugly - The war on information (whistleblowers, investigative journalists and hackers) continues with the government's assault on non-government approved information. The judge acquitted Bradley Manning on the "aiding the enemy" charge not because it was ridiculous but only because the prosecution didn't effectively prove that the enemy actually read any of the information leaked. So the threat remains: leaking information is equivalent to "aiding and abetting the enemy" —even if the information is not harmful to national interests.

The trivial - July 30th, the day of Bradley Manning's conviction, could become National Whistleblowers Day as the very first whistleblower portection law was enacted on July 30, 1778.


How the US Military Tortured Bradley Manning by Jesselyn Radack

Bradley Manning's treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules by Ed Pilkington

The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning by Chris Hedges

A Salute to Bradley Manning, Whistleblower, As We Hear His Words for the First Time and Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S. by Daniel Ellsberg

Statement by Julian Assange on Verdict in Bradley Manning Court-Martial

Bradley Manning's family's statement: Bradley Manning acquitted of “Aiding the Enemy” charge, month-long sentencing phase now determines fate

The Bradley Manning Verdict and the Dangerous “Hacker Madness” Prosecution Strategy by Cindy Cohn, EFF

 All available legal filings, court rulings, and transcripts in U.S. v. Pfc. Bradley Manning by Alexa O'Brien

Transcripts from Bradley Manning's Trial by Freedom of the Press Foundation

Irony: Congress May Declare Today 'National Whistleblower Day' As Court Announces Manning Verdict

Democracy Now Manning Verdict Coverage

Friday, July 26, 2013

The new Jim Crow

Michelle Alexander Lecture: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness: THE NEW JIM CROW

Get the book: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Friday, July 19, 2013

Times They are a-Changin

The judicial system is not what it used to be in the United States. Any notion that the US judicial system had any independence or neutrality has been eviscerated. The judiciary is clearly a weapon in the hands of the government.

Blowing holes in the Constitution

The government has been making "exceptions" to the Bill of Rights under the guise of keeping us safe from terrorism. The war on terror is a rouse as the government strips the people of their civil liberties, busts up their unions and reins down austerity on the people. It's a modern day witch-hunt as a part of larger neoliberal agenda. On July 17, 2013 the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned an injunction against the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) Sectiom 1021. Chris Hedges, the lead plantif, had this response:
This is quite distressing. It means there is no recourse now either within the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of government to halt the steady assault on our civil liberties and most basic Constitutional rights. It means that the state can use the military, overturning over two centuries of domestic law, to use troops on the streets to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers. States that accrue to themselves this kind of power, history has shown, will use it. We will appeal, but the Supreme Court is not required to hear our appeal. It is a black day for those who care about liberty. —Source: Truthdig
The government will go any length to to label someone a terrorist, associated force or someone who committed a belligerent act. With that breadth, it could be anyone. For more, read this. Moving on...

The court marshal of Bradley Manning

It's been a one-sided affair. Of course, it has —it's a court marshal. It's the government versus a whistle-blower and a warning to anyone who challenges government authority.
The military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered. The documents that detail the crimes, torture and killing Manning revealed, because they are classified, have been barred from discussion in court, effectively removing the fundamental issue of war crimes from the trial. Manning is forbidden by the court to challenge the government’s unverified assertion that he harmed national security. Lead defense attorney David E. Coombs said during pretrial proceedings that the judge’s refusal to permit information on the lack of actual damage from the leaks would “eliminate a viable defense, and cut defense off at the knees.” And this is what has happened.

Manning is also barred from presenting to the court his motives for giving the website WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and videos. The issues of his motives and potentially harming national security can be raised only at the time of sentencing, but by then it will be too late.  —Chris Hedges (The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning)
  • No justice for Bradley Manning: The US government has made an example of Bradley Manning to prevent others from challenging the American empire. —Charles Davis
  • Bradley Manning Court-Martial: Secrecy and Injustice on Trial by Stephen Lendman
  •  Lack of transparency means tainted justice for Bradley Manning: Military obfuscation and compliant media make for an Orwellian trial of managed misinformation against the WikiLeaks source —Alexa O'Brien
  • Journalism On Trial as Bradley Manning Case Nears Moment of Truth Many of the trial’s crucial issues won’t be hashed out until the sentence phase—and the press and public may be shut out, reports Alexa O’Brien.
  • "[T]he military judge in Manning’s trial decided not to drop the most serious—and least supportable—charge against him, “aiding the enemy.” The government shouldn’t have brought this charge in the first place. Whatever you think of Manning, it sets a terrible precedent for whistle-blowers. And the only gain is the possibility of a life sentence for a 25-year-old who has already pled guilty to charges that could put him in prison for 20 years. This is about revenge, not justice." —Emily Bazelon (This Is Vengeance, Not Justice: Allowing the government to charge Bradley Manning with “aiding the enemy” is a dangerous precedent.)
It didn't always used to be this way. Daniel Ellsberg, after being a fugitive running from the law for 12 days, surrendered himself to authorities and was released on a personal recognizance bond. He was allowed to speak to the media and public engagements. Now, whistle-blowers are denied bail, kept in isolation, deprived of clothes and bedding, sleep deprived and other cruel and unusual punishments. Ellsberg's enlightening op-ed in Washington Post regarding Edward Snowden and why he had to leave the US can be read here.

Government lifts propaganda ban
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened? —U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans
Bob Dylan's Times They are a-Changin 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Obama vs. pre-election Biden and Obama

Why metadata is so valuable to the government:
Big Brother is Big
Maybe you heard about the tiny story in the media that the U.S. government has been collecting everyone's phone, email, chat, and social media information worldwide? Ugh, but also yay to the daylight shining on these massive spying programs. And remember, just because we don't know about other government's programs, doesn't mean they don't exist. Here at Riseup headquarters we have long lectured you all about how data you give to corporations should be considered data you are also giving to your government/the US government. We assume you annoy all your friends about this frequently. Now that you don't have to anymore, here's something new you can lecture them about: why metadata matters.

Metadata, i.e. all the information about who you communicate with, how frequently, for how long, and from where, can be used to create a social map. One way this social map can be used to determine who the bridge people are within social movements and campaigns, i.e., which people are the connectors.

Say that there is some really excellent, effective anti-coal organizing going on -- effective enough that the powers that be want to stop it. Using the metadata to make a social map shows them who the handful of people are that connect the green anarchists with the labor activists and the climate change organizers. Even in really large campaigns, there are often only a handful of people who are the connectors, and without them communication, coalition, coordination, and solidarity will break down. It's not that it might break down, but it will. Corporations and governments even know how many of these bridge people they need to take out in order to disrupt a campaign. There are algorithms and academic papers written about it. What they haven't always known is who the heck these bridge people are.

Enter the metadata's social map, and they can easily and to an exacting degree see who the bridge people are they need to target. Who to follow and intimidate to stop their organizing. Who to have watched and legally prosecuted via any small legal infraction. Who to illegally entrap. Who to kidnap, torture, and kill. And let's not be naive and imagine that hasn't happened before and will not happen again. The collection of this metadata makes it all the easier.

Sound paranoid? Or are we at a point where nothing sounds paranoid anymore.

So, what can we do about it? For starters, get everyone you know to start using an email provider that uses StartTLS. For email, this is the only thing that can protect against the surveillance of our social networks.

What about phone calls, internet chat, and social networking sites? Riseup birds don't have all the answers, but we are working on it. One thing we know, privacy and security are not solved by personal solutions. If we want security, it will take a collective response and a collective commitment to building alternative communication infrastructure.

Note: Our horizontal, anarchist sensibilities want to add that we don't think bridge-people are the most important people in activism, since we are awfully fond of thinking that there are many crucial niches within any movement's ecosystem that are equally important. But bridge people are necessary, as is the work that you, and you, and you, bring to the table. —From Riseup.net newsletter

Friday, June 28, 2013

9/11 revisited

Most Americans don't think the American government had anything to with 9/11. When I take my neutral stance that I don't know what happened on 9/11 they get very angry, accuse me of being a "truther" and then refuse to discuss it any further.

Obviously, this is just blind faith in our government. With NSA's near total surveillance, secret government memos to itself and new evidence that flight TWA 800 was accidentally shot down by the navy, blind trust in our government may be finally waning. A prescient quote:
 "No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." --William Blum
The reason I don't know what happened on 9/11 is because we don't have all the facts. And the reason we don't have all the facts is because the 9/11 Commission was a cover-up. What they were covering up, we don't know. Was it incompetence by our intelligence agencies or something more sinister?

There are several issues that have not been explained to my satisfaction:

1) "The Bombshell Memo." Colleen Rowley tried to warn the CIA and the FBI that terrorists  were planning an attack on US soil but the warnings died going up the chain.

2) While flying an airplane into a building surprised most of us, our agencies were well aware of such a possibility and measures were in place to prevent such an attack. So what happened? Why were all our fighter jets out in the Atlantic doing military exercises that day?

3) Never before has a steel building collapsed from an airplane hit. It looked and sounded like a controlled demolition. Thermite was found in the metal which seems to back up the controlled demolition theory. Why was there such a huge rush to clean up the metal?

4) A third 47-story building, WTC 7, also collapsed on 9/11 without being hit by a plane. The owner of the WTC buildings, Larry Silverstein, said WTC 7 was "pulled" or demolished. The third metal building ever to collapse. No wonder architects and engineers are calling for a reinvestigation into 9/11.

I stand with OWS in calling for a reinvestigation into 9/11.




From http://www.apfn.org/apfn/wtc_whistleblower1.htm:

Coleen Rowley's Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller
An edited version of the agent's 13-page letter
May 21, 2002

FBI Director Robert Mueller
FBI Headquarters Washington, D.C.

Dear Director Mueller:

I feel at this point that I have to put my concerns in writing concerning the important topic of the FBI's response to evidence of terrorist activity in the United States prior to September 11th. The issues are fundamentally ones of INTEGRITY and go to the heart of the FBI's law enforcement mission and mandate. Moreover, at this critical juncture in fashioning future policy to promote the most effective handling of ongoing and future threats to United States citizens' security, it is of absolute importance that an unbiased, completely accurate picture emerge of the FBI's current investigative and management strengths and failures.

To get to the point, I have deep concerns that a delicate and subtle shading/skewing of facts by you and others at the highest levels of FBI management has occurred and is occurring. The term "cover up" would be too strong a characterization which is why I am attempting to carefully (and perhaps over laboriously) choose my words here. I base my concerns on my relatively small, peripheral but unique role in the Moussaoui investigation in the Minneapolis Division prior to, during and after September 11th and my analysis of the comments I have heard both inside the FBI (originating, I believe, from you and other high levels of management) as well as your Congressional testimony and public comments.

I feel that certain facts, including the following, have, up to now, been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mis-characterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons:

1) The Minneapolis agents who responded to the call about Moussaoui's flight training identified him as a terrorist threat from a very early point. The decision to take him into custody on August 15, 2001, on the INS "overstay" charge was a deliberate one to counter that threat and was based on the agents' reasonable suspicions. While it can be said that Moussaoui's overstay status was fortuitous, because it allowed for him to be taken into immediate custody and prevented him receiving any more flight training, it was certainly not something the INS coincidentally undertook of their own volition. I base this on the conversation I had when the agents called me at home late on the evening Moussaoui was taken into custody to confer and ask for legal advice about their next course of action. The INS agent was assigned to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and was therefore working in tandem with FBI agents.

2) As the Minneapolis agents' reasonable suspicions quickly ripened into probable cause, which, at the latest, occurred within days of Moussaoui's arrest when the French Intelligence Service confirmed his affiliations with radical fundamentalist Islamic groups and activities connected to Osama Bin Laden, they became desperate to search the computer lap top that had been taken from Moussaoui as well as conduct a more thorough search of his personal effects. The agents in particular believed that Moussaoui signaled he had something to hide in the way he refused to allow them to search his computer.

3) The Minneapolis agents' initial thought was to obtain a criminal search warrant, but in order to do so, they needed to get FBI Headquarters' (FBIHQ's) approval in order to ask for DOJ OIPR's approval to contact the United States Attorney's Office in Minnesota. Prior to and even after receipt of information provided by the French, FBIHQ personnel disputed with the Minneapolis agents the existence of probable cause to believe that a criminal violation had occurred/was occurring. As such, FBIHQ personnel refused to contact OIPR to attempt to get the authority. While reasonable minds may differ as to whether probable cause existed prior to receipt of the French intelligence information, it was certainly established after that point and became even greater with successive, more detailed information from the French and other intelligence sources. The two possible criminal violations initially identified by Minneapolis Agents were violations of Title 18 United States Code Section 2332b (Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, which, notably, includes "creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person by destroying or damaging any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States or by attempting or conspiring to destroy or damage any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States") and Section 32 (Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities). It is important to note that the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th was based on probable cause of a violation of Section 32.1 Notably also, the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th did not include the French intelligence information. Therefore, the only main difference between the information being submitted to FBIHQ from an early date which HQ personnel continued to deem insufficient and the actual criminal search warrant which a federal district judge signed and approved on September 11th, was the fact that, by the time the actual warrant was obtained, suspected terrorists were known to have highjacked planes which they then deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. To say then, as has been iterated numerous times, that probable cause did not exist until after the disasterous event occurred, is really to acknowledge that the missing piece of probable cause was only the FBI's (FBIHQ's) failure to appreciate that such an event could occur. The probable cause did not otherwise improve or change. When we went to the United States Attorney's Office that morning of September 11th, in the first hour after the attack, we used a disk containing the same information that had already been provided to FBIHQ; then we quickly added Paragraph 19 which was the little we knew from news reports of the actual attacks that morning. The problem with chalking this all up to the "20-20 hindsight is perfect" problem, (which I, as all attorneys who have been involved in deadly force training or the defense of various lawsuits are fully appreciative of), is that this is not a case of everyone in the FBI failing to appreciate the potential consequences. It is obvious, from my firsthand knowledge of the events and the detailed documentation that exists, that the agents in Minneapolis who were closest to the action and in the best position to gauge the situation locally, did fully appreciate the terrorist risk/danger posed by Moussaoui and his possible co-conspirators even prior to September 11th. Even without knowledge of the Phoenix communication (and any number of other additional intelligence communications that FBIHQ personnel were privy to in their central coordination roles), the Minneapolis agents appreciated the risk. So I think it's very hard for the FBI to offer the "20-20 hindsight" justification for its failure to act! Also intertwined with my reluctance in this case to accept the "20-20 hindsight" rationale is first-hand knowledge that I have of statements made on September 11th, after the first attacks on the World Trade Center had already occurred, made telephonically by the FBI Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) who was the one most involved in the Moussaoui matter and who, up to that point, seemed to have been consistently, almost deliberately thwarting the Minneapolis FBI agents' efforts (see number 5). Even after the attacks had begun, the SSA in question was still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the World Trade Center attacks as a mere coincidence with Misseapolis' prior suspicions about Moussaoui.2
4) In one of my peripheral roles on the Moussaoui matter, I answered an e-mail message on August 22, 2001, from an attorney at the National Security Law Unit (NSLU). Of course, with (ever important!) 20-20 hindsight, I now wish I had taken more time and care to compose my response. When asked by NSLU for my "assessment of (our) chances of getting a criminal warrant to search Moussaoui's computer", I answered, "Although I think there's a decent chance of being able to get a judge to sign a criminal search warrant, our USAO seems to have an even higher standard much of the time, so rather than risk it, I advised that they should try the other route." Leaked news accounts which said the Minneapolis Legal Counsel (referring to me) concurred with the FBIHQ that probable cause was lacking to search Moussaoui's computer are in error. (or possibly the leak was deliberately skewed in this fashion?) What I meant by this pithy e-mail response, was that although I thought probable cause existed ("probable cause" meaning that the proposition has to be more likely than not, or if quantified, a 51% likelihood), I thought our United States Attorney's Office, (for a lot of reasons including just to play it safe) in regularly requiring much more than probable cause before approving affidavits, (maybe, if quantified, 75%-80% probability and sometimes even higher), and depending on the actual AUSA who would be assigned, might turn us down. As a tactical choice, I therefore thought it would be better to pursue the "other route" (the FISA search warrant) first, the reason being that there is a common perception, which for lack of a better term, I'll call the "smell test" which has arisen that if the FBI can't do something through straight-up criminal methods, it will then resort to using less-demanding intelligence methods. Of course this isn't true, but I think the perception still exists. So, by this line of reasoning, I was afraid that if we first attempted to go criminal and failed to convince an AUSA, we wouldn't pass the "smell test" in subsequently seeking a FISA. I thought our best chances therefore lay in first seeking the FISA. Both of the factors that influenced my thinking are areas arguably in need of improvement: requiring an excessively high standard of probable cause in terrorism cases and getting rid of the "smell test" perception. It could even be argued that FBI agents, especially in terrorism cases where time is of the essence, should be allowed to go directly to federal judges to have their probable cause reviewed for arrests or searches without having to gain the USAO's approval.4
5) The fact is that key FBIHQ personnel whose job it was to assist and coordinate with field division agents on terrorism investigations and the obtaining and use of FISA searches (and who theoretically were privy to many more sources of intelligence information than field division agents), continued to, almost inexplicably,5 throw up roadblocks and undermine Minneapolis' by-now desperate efforts to obtain a FISA search warrant, long after the French intelligence service provided its information and probable cause became clear. HQ personnel brought up almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause.6 In all of their conversations and correspondence, HQ personnel never disclosed to the Minneapolis agents that the Phoenix Division had, only approximately three weeks earlier, warned of Al Qaeda operatives in flight schools seeking flight training for terrorist purposes!

Nor did FBIHQ personnel do much to disseminate the information about Moussaoui to other appropriate intelligence/law enforcement authorities. When, in a desperate 11th hour measure to bypass the FBIHQ roadblock, the Minneapolis Division undertook to directly notify the CIA's Counter Terrorist Center (CTC), FBIHQ personnel actually chastised the Minneapolis agents for making the direct notification without their approval!

6 ) Eventually on August 28, 2001, after a series of e-mails between Minneapolis and FBIHQ, which suggest that the FBIHQ SSA deliberately further undercut the FISA effort by not adding the further intelligence information which he had promised to add that supported Moussaoui's foreign power connection and making several changes in the wording of the information that had been provided by the Minneapolis Agent, the Minneapolis agents were notified that the NSLU Unit Chief did not think there was sufficient evidence of Moussaoui's connection to a foreign power. Minneapolis personnel are, to this date, unaware of the specifics of the verbal presentations by the FBIHQ SSA to NSLU or whether anyone in NSLU ever was afforded the opportunity to actually read for him/herself all of the information on Moussaoui that had been gathered by the Minneapolis Division and the French intelligence service. Obviously verbal presentations are far more susceptible to mis-characterization and error. The e-mail communications between Minneapolis and FBIHQ, however, speak for themselves and there are far better witnesses than me who can provide their first hand knowledge of these events characterized in one Minneapolis agent's e-mail as FBIHQ is "setting this up for failure." My only comment is that the process of allowing the FBI supervisors to make changes in affidavits is itself fundamentally wrong, just as, in the follow-up to FBI Laboratory Whistleblower Frederic Whitehurst's allegations, this process was revealed to be wrong in the context of writing up laboratory results. With the Whitehurst allegations, this process of allowing supervisors to re-write portions of laboratory reports, was found to provide opportunities for over-zealous supervisors to skew the results in favor of the prosecution. In the Moussaoui case, it was the opposite -- the process allowed the Headquarters Supervisor to downplay the significance of the information thus far collected in order to get out of the work of having to see the FISA application through or possibly to avoid taking what he may have perceived as an unnecessary career risk.7 I understand that the failures of the FBIHQ personnel involved in the Moussaoui matter are also being officially excused because they were too busy with other investigations, the Cole bombing and other important terrorism matters, but the Supervisor's taking of the time to read each word of the information submitted by Minneapolis and then substitute his own choice of wording belies to some extent the notion that he was too busy. As an FBI division legal advisor for 12 years (and an FBI agent for over 21 years), I can state that an affidavit is better and will tend to be more accurate when the affiant has first hand information of all the information he/she must attest to. Of necessity, agents must continually rely upon information from confidential sources, third parties and other law enforcement officers in drafting affidavits, but the repeating of information from others greatly adds to the opportunities for factual discrepancies and errors to arise. To the extent that we can minimize the opportunity for this type of error to arise by simply not allowing unnecessary re-writes by supervisory staff, it ought to be done. (I'm not talking, of course, about mere grammatical corrections, but changes of some substance as apparently occurred with the Moussaoui information which had to be, for lack of a better term, "filtered" through FBIHQ before any action, whether to seek a criminal or a FISA warrant, could be taken.) Even after September 11th, the fear was great on the part of Minneapolis Division personnel that the same FBIHQ personnel would continue their "filtering" with respect to the Moussaoui investigation, and now with the added incentive of preventing their prior mistakes from coming to light. For this reason, for weeks, Minneapolis prefaced all outgoing communications (ECs) in the PENTTBOM investigation with a summary of the information about Moussaoui. We just wanted to make sure the information got to the proper prosecutive authorities and was not further suppressed! This fear was probably irrational but was nonetheless understandable in light of the Minneapolis agents' prior experiences and frustrations involving FBIHQ. (The redundant preface information regarding Moussaoui on otherwise unrelative PENTTBOM communications has ended up adding to criminal discovery issues, but this is the reason it was done.)

7) Although the last thing the FBI or the country needs now is a witch hunt, I do find it odd that (to my knowledge) no inquiry whatsoever was launched of the relevant FBIHQ personnel's actions a long time ago. Despite FBI leaders' full knowledge of all the items mentioned herein (and probably more that I'm unaware of), the SSA, his unit chief, and other involved HQ personnel were allowed to stay in their positions and, what's worse, occupy critical positions in the FBI's SIOC Command Center post September 11th. (The SSA in question actually received a promotion some months afterward!) It's true we all make mistakes and I'm not suggesting that HQ personnel in question ought to be burned at the stake, but, we all need to be held accountable for serious mistakes. I'm relatively certain that if it appeared that a lowly field office agent had committed such errors of judgment, the FBI's OPR would have been notified to investigate and the agent would have, at the least, been quickly reassigned. I'm afraid the FBI's failure to submit this matter to OPR (and to the IOB) gives further impetus to the notion (raised previously by many in the FBI) of a double standard which results in those of lower rank being investigated more aggressively and dealt with more harshly for misconduct while the misconduct of those at the top is often overlooked or results in minor disciplinary action. From all appearances, this double standard may also apply between those at FBIHQ and those in the field.

8) The last official "fact" that I take issue with is not really a fact, but an opinion, and a completely unsupported opinion at that. In the day or two following September 11th, you, Director Mueller, made the statement to the effect that if the FBI had only had any advance warning of the attacks, we (meaning the FBI), may have been able to take some action to prevent the tragedy. Fearing that this statement could easily come back to haunt the FBI upon revelation of the information that had been developed pre-September 11th about Moussaoui, I and others in the Minneapolis Office, immediately sought to reach your office through an assortment of higher level FBIHQ contacts, in order to quickly make you aware of the background of the Moussaoui investigation and forewarn you so that your public statements could be accordingly modified. When such statements from you and other FBI officials continued, we thought that somehow you had not received the message and we made further efforts. Finally when similar comments were made weeks later, in Assistant Director Caruso's congressional testimony in response to the first public leaks about Moussaoui we faced the sad realization that the remarks indicated someone, possibly with your approval, had decided to circle the wagons at FBIHQ in an apparent effort to protect the FBI from embarrassment and the relevant FBI officials from scrutiny. Everything I have seen and heard about the FBI's official stance and the FBI's internal preparations in anticipation of further congressional inquiry, had, unfortunately, confirmed my worst suspicions in this regard. After the details began to emerge concerning the pre-September 11th investigation of Moussaoui, and subsequently with the recent release of the information about the Phoenix EC, your statement has changed. The official statement is now to the effect that even if the FBI had followed up on the Phoenix lead to conduct checks of flight schools and the Minneapolis request to search Moussaoui's personal effects and laptop, nothing would have changed and such actions certainly could not have prevented the terrorist attacks and resulting loss of life. With all due respect, this statement is as bad as the first! It is also quite at odds with the earlier statement (which I'm surprised has not already been pointed out by those in the media!) I don't know how you or anyone at FBI Headquarters, no matter how much genius or prescience you may possess, could so blithely make this affirmation without anything to back the opinion up than your stature as FBI Director. The truth is, as with most predictions into the future, no one will ever know what impact, if any, the FBI's following up on those requests, would have had. Although I agree that it's very doubtful that the full scope of the tragedy could have been prevented, it's at least possible we could have gotten lucky and uncovered one or two more of the terrorists in flight training prior to September 11th, just as Moussaoui was discovered, after making contact with his flight instructors. It is certainly not beyond the realm of imagination to hypothesize that Moussaoui's fortuitous arrest alone, even if he merely was the 20th hijacker, allowed the hero passengers of Flight 93 to overcome their terrorist hijackers and thus spare more lives on the ground. And even greater casualties, possibly of our Nation's highest government officials, may have been prevented if Al Qaeda intended for Moussaoui to pilot an entirely different aircraft. There is, therefore at least some chance that discovery of other terrorist pilots prior to September 11th may have limited the September 11th attacks and resulting loss of life. Although your conclusion otherwise has to be very reassuring for some in the FBI to hear being repeated so often (as if saying it's so may make it so), I think your statements demonstrate a rush to judgment to protect the FBI at all costs. I think the only fair response to this type of question would be that no one can pretend to know one way or another.
Mr. Director, I hope my observations can be taken in a constructive vein. They are from the heart and intended to be completely apolitical. Hopefully, with our nation's security on the line, you and our nation's other elected and appointed officials can rise above the petty politics that often plague other discussions and do the right thing. You do have some good ideas for change in the FBI but I think you have also not been completely honest about some of the true reasons for the FBI's pre-September 11th failures. Until we come clean and deal with the root causes, the Department of Justice will continue to experience problems fighting terrorism and fighting crime in general.
I have used the "we" term repeatedly herin to indicate facts about others in the Minneapolis Office at critical times, but none of the opinions expressed herin can be attributed to anyone but myself. I know that those who know me would probably describe me as, by nature, overly opinionated and sometimes not as discreet as I should be. Certainly some of the above remarks may be interpreted as falling into that category, but I really do not intend anything as a personal criticism of you or anyone else in the FBI, to include the FBIHQ personnel who I believe were remiss and mishandled their duties with regard to the Moussaoui investigation. Truly my only purpose is to try to provide the facts within my purview so that an accurate assessment can be obtained and we can learn from our mistakes. I have pointed out a few of the things that I think should be looked at but there are many, many more.8 An honest acknowledgment of the FBI's mistakes in this and other cases should not lead to increasing the Headquarters bureaucracy and approval levels of investigative actions as the answer. Most often, field office agents and field office management on the scene will be better suited to the timely and effective solution of crimes and, in some lucky instances, to the effective prevention of crimes, including terrorism incidents. The relatively quick solving of the recent mailbox pipe-bombing incidents which resulted in no serious injuries to anyone are a good example of effective field office work (actually several field offices working together) and there are hundreds of other examples. Although FBIHQ personnel have, no doubt, been of immeasurable assistance to the field over the years, I'm hard pressed to think of any case which has been solved by FBIHQ personnel and I can name several that have been screwed up! Decision-making is inherently more effective and timely when decentralized instead of concentrated.

Your plans for an FBI Headquarters' "Super Squad" simply fly in the face of an honest appraisal of the FBI's pre-September 11th failures. The Phoenix, Minneapolis and Paris Legal Attache Offices reacted remarkably exhibiting keen perception and prioritization skills regarding the terrorist threats they uncovered or were made aware of pre-September 11th. The same cannot be said for the FBI Headquarters' bureaucracy and you want to expand that?! Should we put the counterterrorism unit chief and SSA who previously handled the Moussaoui matter in charge of the new "Super Squad"?! You are also apparently disregarding the fact the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), operating out of field divisions for years, (the first and chief one being New York City's JTTF), have successfully handled numerous terrorism investigations and, in some instances, successfully prevented acts of terrorism. There's no denying the need for more and better intelligence and intelligence management, but you should think carefully about how much gate keeping power should be entrusted with any HQ entity. If we are indeed in a "war", shouldn't the Generals be on the battlefield instead of sitting in a spot removed from the action while still attempting to call the shots?

I have been an FBI agent for over 21 years and, for what it's worth, have never received any form of disciplinary action throughout my career. From the 5th grade, when I first wrote the FBI and received the "100 Facts about the FBI" pamphlet, this job has been my dream. I feel that my career in the FBI has been somewhat exemplary, having entered on duty at a time when there was only a small percentage of female Special Agents. I have also been lucky to have had four children during my time in the FBI and am the sole breadwinner of a family of six. Due to the frankness with which I have expressed myself and my deep feelings on these issues, (which is only because I feel I have a somewhat unique, inside perspective of the Moussaoui matter, the gravity of the events of September 11th and the current seriousness of the FBI's and United States' ongoing efforts in the "war against terrorism"), I hope my continued employment with the FBI is not somehow placed in jeopardy. I have never written to an FBI Director in my life before on any topic. Although I would hope it is not necessary, I would therefore wish to take advantage of the federal "Whistleblower Protection" provisions by so characterizing my remarks.


Coleen M. Rowley

Special Agent and Minneapolis Chief Division Counsel


1) And both of the violations originally cited in vain by the Minneapolis agents disputing the issue with FBIHQ personnel are among those on which Moussaoui is currently indicted.

2) Just minutes after I saw the first news of the World Trade Center attack(s), I was standing outside the office of Minneapolis ASAC M. Chris Briesse waiting for him to finish with a phone call, when he received a call on another line from this SSA. Since I figured I knew what the call may be about and wanted to ask, in light of the unfolding events and the apparent urgency of the situation, if we should now immediately attempt to obtain a criminal search warrant for Moussaoui's laptop and personal property, I took the call. I said something to the effect that, in light of what had just happened in New York, it would have to be the "hugest coincidence" at this point if Moussaoui was not involved with the terrorists. The SSA stated something to the effect that I had used the right term, "coincidence" and that this was probably all just a coincidence and we were to do nothing in Minneapolis until we got their (HQ's) permission because we might "screw up" something else going on elsewhere in the country.

4) Certainly Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure which begins, "Upon the request of a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government" does not contain this requirement. Although the practice that has evolved is that FBI agents must secure prior approval for any search or arrest from the United States Attorneys Office, the Federal Rule governing Search and Seizure clearly envisions law enforcement officers applying, on their own, for search warrants.

5) During the early aftermath of September 11th, when I happened to be recounting the pre-September 11th events concerning the Moussaoui investigation to other FBI personnel in other divisions or in FBIHQ, almost everyone's first question was "Why?--Why would an FBI agent(s) deliberately sabotage a case? (I know I shouldn't be flippant about this, but jokes were actually made that the key FBIHQ personnel had to be spies or moles, like Robert Hansen, who were actually working for Osama Bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis' effort.) Our best real guess, however, is that, in most cases avoidance of all "unnecessary" actions/decisions by FBIHQ managers (and maybe to some extent field managers as well) has, in recent years, been seen as the safest FBI career course. Numerous high-ranking FBI officials who have made decisions or have taken actions which, in hindsight, turned out to be mistaken or just turned out badly (i.e. Ruby Ridge, Waco, etc.) have seen their careers plummet and end. This has in turn resulted in a climate of fear which has chilled aggressive FBI law enforcement action/decisions. In a large hierarchal bureaucracy such as the FBI, with the requirement for numerous superiors approvals/oversight, the premium on career-enhancement, and interjecting a chilling factor brought on by recent extreme public and congressional criticism/oversight, and I think you will see at least the makings of the most likely explanation. Another factor not to be underestimated probably explains the SSA and other FBIHQ personnel's reluctance to act. And so far, I have heard no FBI official even allude to this problem-- which is that FBI Headquarters is staffed with a number of short term careerists* who, like the SSA in question, must only serve an 18 month-just-time-to-get-your-ticket-punched minimum. It's no wonder why very little expertise can be acquired by a Headquarters unit! (And no wonder why FBIHQ is mired in mediocrity! -- that maybe a little strong, but it would definitely be fair to say that there is unevenness in competency among Headquarters personnel.) (It's also a well known fact that the FBI Agents Association has complained for years about the disincentives facing those entering the FBI management career path which results in very few of the FBI's best and brightest choosing to go into management. Instead the ranks of FBI management are filled with many who were failures as street agents. Along these lines, let me ask the question, why has it suddenly become necessary for the Director to "handpick" the FBI management?) It's quite conceivable that many of the HQ personnel who so vigorously disputed Moussaoui's ability/predisposition to fly a plane into a building were simply unaware of all the various incidents and reports worldwide of Al Qaeda terrorists attempting or plotting to do so.
*By the way, just in the event you did not know, let me furnish you the Webster's definition of "careerism - - the policy or practice of advancing one's career often at the cost of one's integrity". Maybe that sums up the whole problem!

6) For example, at one point, the Supervisory Special Agent at FBIHQ posited that the French information could be worthless because it only identified Zacarias Moussaoui by name and he, the SSA, didn't know how many people by that name existed in France. A Minneapolis agent attempted to surmount that problem by quickly phoning the FBI's legal Attache (Legat) in Paris, France, so that a check could be made of the French telephone directories. Although the Legat in France did not have access to all of the French telephone directories, he was able to quickly ascertain that there was only one listed in the Paris directory. It is not known if this sufficiently answered the question, for the SSA continued to find new reasons to stall.

7) Another factor that cannot be underestimated as to the HQ Supervisor's apparent reluctance to do anything was/is the ever present risk of being "written up" for an Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) "error." In the year(s) preceding the September 11th acts of terrorism, numerous alleged IOB violations on the part of FBI personnel had to be submitted to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) as well as the IOB. I believe the chilling effect upon all levels of FBI agents assigned to intelligence matters and their manager hampered us from aggressive investigation of terrorists. Since one generally only runs the risk of IOB violations when one does something, the safer course is to do nothing. Ironically, in this case, a potentially huge IOB violation arguably occurred due to FBIHQ's failure to act, that is, FBIHQ's failure to inform the Department of Justice Criminal Division of Moussaoui's potential criminal violations (which, as I've already said, were quickly identified in Minneapolis as violations of Title 18 United States Code Section 2332b [Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries] and Section 32 [Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities]). This failure would seem to run clearly afoul of the Attorney General directive contained in the "1995 Procedures for Contacts Between the FBI and the Criminal Division Concerning Foreign Intelligence and Foreign Counterintelligence Investigations" which mandatorily require the FBI to notify the Criminal Division when "facts or circumstances are developed" in an FI or FCI investigation "that reasonably indicate that a significant federal crime has been, is being, or may be committed." I believe that Minneapolis agents actually brought this point to FBIHQ's attention on August 22, 2001, but HQ personnel apparently ignored the directive, ostensibly due to their opinion of the lack of probable cause. But the issue of whether HQ personnel deliberately undercut the probable cause can be sidestepped at this point because the Directive does not require probable cause. It requires only a "reasonable indication" which is defined as "substantially lower than probable cause." Given that the Minneapolis Division had accumulated far more than "a mere hunch" (which the directive would deem as insufficient), the information ought to have, at least, been passed on to the "Core Group" created to assess whether the information needed to be further disseminated to the Criminal Division. However, (and I don't know for sure), but to date, I have never heard that any potential violation of this directive has been submitted to the IOB or to the FBI's OPR. It should also be noted that when making determinations of whether items need to be submitted to the IOB, it is my understanding that NSLU normally used/uses a broad approach, erring, when in doubt, on the side of submitting potential violations.

8) For starters, if prevention rather than prosecution is to be our new main goal, (an objective I totally agree with), we need more guidance on when we can apply the Quarles "public safety" exception to Miranda's 5th Amendment requirements. We were prevented from even attempting to question Moussaoui on the day of the attacks when, in theory, he could have possessed further information about other co-conspirators.} (Apparently no government attorney believes there is a "public safety" exception in a situation like this?!)


FBI's 'Phoenix' Memo Unmasked
Fortune's investigative reporter, the only journalist to see confidential document, reveals its true name and nature.
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
By Richard Behar
Ken Williams, FBI agent who wrote the "Phoenix" memo.
What happens when bosses ignore memos from subordinates? The country is now learning the answer to that question in a most painful way.
On July 10, 2001, an FBI agent in Phoenix wrote a memo raising serious concerns about Middle Eastern men attending U.S. flight schools. The memo never made its way up the chain of command, and no action was taken. It wasn't seen by FBI Director Robert Mueller until after Sept. 11, and President Bush wasn't made aware of its contents until a few weeks ago. The confidential document still hasn't been released, and yesterday it was the subject of a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee session.Recently, I had a chance to read the memo -- apparently the first journalist to have done so. It was shown to me by a reliable government source, who permitted me to take notes but wouldn't let me copy it. What I learned -- and what FORTUNE aired yesterday on CNN -- is chilling. The memo raises questions about what federal law enforcement officers knew and what they did or didn't do to protect the U.S. from terror attacks in the months before Sept. 11. After reviewing the memo, one cannot help but conclude that the FBI dropped the ball -- perhaps ignoring the alert altogether.

The memo was written by Phoenix FBI Special Agent Kenneth J. Williams, described as a member of "Squad 16," and it was approved by a man named William A. Kurtz. The title reads: "Zakaria Mustapha Soubra; IT-OTHER (Islamic Army of the Caucasus)." The "synopsis" says: "Usama bin Laden and Al-Muhjiroun supporters attending civil aviation universities/colleges in Arizona." And the memo bears the FBI codes: "Derived from G-3" and "Declassify on X1."

Soubra, the memo said, was a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. (According to the Los Angeles Times, he was questioned by FBI agents in 2000, after he was observed at a shooting range with another Muslim, who was a veteran of Islamic jihads in the Balkans and the Middle East. No charges were brought against him, and he is currently a senior at Embry-Riddle.) The organization named in the memo's title, the Islamic Army of the Caucasus, is based in Chechnya and was at one time headed by a man named Amir Khattab, who, according news reports, is suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden.

The FBI's probe of Soubra, according to the Williams memo, was instituted on April 17, 2000, nearly 17 months before last year's terror attacks. Williams warns in his July 10 memo of a possible "effort by Usama bin Laden to send students to the U.S. to attend civil aviation universities and colleges." He also refers to a "fatwa by Al-Muhjiroun, spiritual leader Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed Fostok." (Fostok, according to news reports, once ran a London-based radical group called the Islamic Liberation Party, dedicated to overthrowing Western society. He was arrested for suggesting that it was permissible to kill then British Prime Minister John Major, which he denied and was released without any charges being filed.)

The Williams memo included the names of several Middle Eastern students, one identified as a "Saudi national," who were apparently students at Embry-Riddle at the time. One reason FBI officials have given for not releasing the memo is that several of these individuals are still under investigation. So, although those names are now in my notebook, they will not be published here.

FBI officials apparently didn't do much with the Phoenix memo. It was sent to roughly a dozen FBI officials, none of whom apparently sent it to the agency's acting director. FBI Director Mueller, who took over in early September, before the attacks, concedes that the agency didn't act aggressively on the memo. Among other lapses, it never shared the memo with the CIA, which only learned of its existence a few weeks ago.

So the question is: Had senior FBI officials, the CIA, and the Bush Administration seen the Phoenix memo, could they have stitched together enough clues to prevent the terror attacks? That's something that may take months of hearings and investigation to answer. But the first step is clear: The memo should be released immediately, names blacked-out if necessary, so we can all learn what Agent Williams knew.