In the summer of 2011, an interview with former “Counterterrorism Czar” Richard Clarke made a splash in the alternative media. In the interview, Clarke speculated about CIA malfeasance related to the pre-9/11 monitoring of two alleged hijackers. This was interesting due to Clarke’s suggestion that the CIA had courted 9/11 suspects as sources, but it was far more interesting for what was not said with regard to Clarke’s personal history and associations.
The seeming point of the new statements from Clarke was that the CIA might have withheld information from him, the FBI, and the Department of Defense (DOD) in the twenty months leading up to the 9/11 attacks. Clarke was not suggesting that the CIA did this maliciously, but only that his good friend, George Tenet, and two others made a mistake in their approach. Clarke said of these CIA leaders, “They understood that al Qaeda was a big threat, they were motivated, and they were really trying hard.” The mild twist that Clarke put on the story was that the CIA’s diligent effort to secure much needed sources within al Qaeda was pursued without any suspicion that those sources might turn out to be “double agents.”
Clarke claimed that if the CIA had simply told him, the FBI, and the DOD about Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi, “even as late as September 4th, ” they would have conducted a massive sweep. “We would have conducted it publicly,” he said, “We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind. Even with only a week left.”
There were serious problems with Clarke’s new claims. For one thing, evidence indicates that FBI headquarters worked to protect the alleged 9/11 hijackers in the months leading up to 9/11. Another obvious problem is that those “assholes” lived with an FBI asset for at least four months and there are reasons to believe the FBI knew that.
More importantly, Richard Clarke personally thwarted two of the attempts the CIA had made to capture Osama bin Laden (OBL) in the two years before 9/11. It seems disingenuous at best that Clarke would say that he didn’t have enough information to capture two of OBL’s underlings in 2000 when he was responsible for preventing the capture of OBL just the year before.
Although Clarke apologized to the 9/11 victims’ families for government failures that led to 9/11, there are reasons to take his input with a healthy level of skepticism. One reason is that Clarke has made a number of false statements with regard to 9/11 and terrorism. Additionally, Clarke’s personal history suggests that he protected terrorist suspects and may have been in league with a terrorist network.
Not Just Another COG
After graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the Sphinx Society, Clarke began his government career in the Ford Administration. He worked as a defense department nuclear weapons analyst and shared a Pentagon office with Wayne Downing, who later became a leader of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as will be reviewed in Chapter 15.
At the time, White House chief of staff Dick Cheney and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld were fighting a war of public perception to preserve the increasingly unpopular aspects of the CIA. Nuclear policy was a big issue then, and at least one of Clarke’s closest colleagues in later years, Paul Wolfowitz, worked to present false “Team B” information.
After getting his Master of Arts degree from MIT, Clarke went on to become President Reagan’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. In this role, Clarke negotiated U.S. military presence in Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. He asked these foreign governments for “access” agreements and the right to enhance existing facilities. As a result, the U.S. moved large numbers of contractors into Saudi Arabia. One such contractor, Bernard Kerik, the New York City police commissioner on 9/11, signed on for a three year tour as the “the chief investigator for the royal family of Saudi Arabia.”
During his first half dozen years in Reagan’s State department, Clarke called Morton Abramowitz, the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, his boss and mentor. Abramowitz, who was said to be influential in the career of Clarke, had worked as assistant secretary for defense under Donald Rumsfeld in the seventies when Clarke worked in the DOD. Abramowitz left his position at State in 1989 to become the ambassador to Turkey. The next person for whom Abramowitz was boss and mentor was his deputy ambassador, Marc Grossman.
In 1984, Clarke was selected to take part in one of the most highly classified projects of the Reagan Administration. This was the secret Continuity of Government (COG) program run by the National Program Office that continued up to and after the attacks of September 11. Other than Clarke, the members of the COG group included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George H.W. Bush, Kenneth Duberstein, and James Woolsey. If not a formal member of the group, Oliver North reported to it and acted on its behalf. Although Cheney and Rumsfeld were not government employees throughout the twenty years that Clarke participated in this official government program, they both continued to participate.
COG was developed to install a shadow “government in waiting” to replace the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Constitution in the event of a national emergency like a nuclear war. The first and only time that COG was put into action was when Richard Clarke activated it during the 9/11 attacks. As of 2002, that shadow government continued to be in effect as an “indefinite precaution.”
In 1998, Clarke would revise the COG plan for use as a response to a terrorist attack on American soil. Apparently, COG and the shadow government these men created are still in play to this day.
In 1989, Clarke was appointed by George H.W. Bush to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs, under James Baker. Clarke was in this position until 1992, and his role was to link the DOD and the Department of State by providing policy in areas related to international security and military operations. One important aspect of his job during this time was that Clarke coordinated State department support of Operation Desert Storm and led the efforts to design the region’s security structure after the Gulf War.
Throughout the years of the George H.W. Bush Administration, Clarke worked with defense secretary Cheney and State Department “Foreign Policy Consultant” Rumsfeld. Others he worked closely with at the time included:
- James Baker, the Secretary of State who went on to join the Carlyle Group
- Paul Wolfowitz, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy who, in the week before 9/11, led meetings with Pakistani ISI General Ahmed
- Duane Andrews, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence who left to run SAIC
- Robert Gates, the CIA Director who was implicated in the Iran-Contra crimes and later also worked with SAIC
- Senate Intelligence Committee representatives George Tenet and William Cohen, the latter of whom sponsored the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review that dramatically reduced the number of jet fighters protecting the continental Unites States
- And Reagan advisor Richard Armitage, who was responsible for granting visas to some of the alleged hijackers and participated in the failed air defense teleconference on 9/11
According to his book, Clarke remembers that “Wolfowitz and I flew on to Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Salaleh” to coordinate relations with the UAE, at Cheney’s request.Over the following decade, Clarke negotiated many deals with the Emirates, essentially becoming an agent of the UAE, and he was “particularly close to the UAE royal family.”
Not long after Clarke began going there,the royal family of Abu Dhabi took over full ownership of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). As discussed earlier, BCCI is significant relative to 9/11 because it was involved in funding terrorists and was in partnership with the Pakistani intelligence network from which several alleged 9/11 conspirators came, including KSM. In fact, TIME magazine reported that, relative to BCCI, “You can’t draw a line separating the bank’s black operatives and Pakistan’s intelligence services.”
More importantly, there is strong evidence that the CIA was involved in the founding of BCCI. The CIA connection to the origins of the BCCI terrorist network are revealing because the royal family of the UAE was also said to have played a primary role in the creation of BCCI. As the official U.S. government report on the subject pointed out, “There was no relationship more central to BCCI’s existence from its inception than that between BCCI and Sheikh Zayed and the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.”
Clarke’s friends in the UAE royal family not only created the BCCI terrorist network, they took it over when the Bank of England shut it down. “By July 5, 1991, when BCCI was closed globally, the Government of Abu Dhabi, its ruling family, and an investment company holding the assets of the ruling family, were the controlling, and official ‘majority’ shareholders of BCCI – owning 77 percent of the bank. But since the remaining 23 percent was actually held by nominees and by BCCI’s alter-ego ICIC, Abu Dhabi was in fact BCCI’s sole owner.”
Not long after this, in 1992, Bush named Clarke to the National Security Council staff as Special Assistant to the President and he became chairman of the Interagency Counterterrorism Committee. One might think that Richard Clarke’s close relationship to the royal family of the UAE, and this new role as the NSC head of counterterrorism, might have posed a slight conflict of interest. But no one seemed to notice.
Likewise, few have noticed that the attacks attributed to al Qaeda began just after the first Bush Administration left office. It was in December of 1992 that al Qaeda is said to have first committed an act of terrorism by bombing U.S. troops in Yemen. Attacks and plots in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and many others places located near the production and transport routes of fossil fuels have been attributed to al Qaeda since that time.
Continuing as “Counterterrorism Czar” in the Clinton Administration, Clarke was not interested in pursuing the remnants of the BCCI terrorist network. Instead, he had a different approach to combating terrorism. In 1993, the United States began a practice known as “rendition.” Throughout the rest of the world, rendition is known as torture. The policy behind this program was proposed by Clarke, who worked to get “snatch teams” in place to kidnap suspects for torture. The success of Clarke’s rendition proposal led to the post-9/11 U.S. program of secret kidnappings and torture around the world.
In the summer of 1994, Clarke played a leading role in the international failure to intervene in the Rwandan genocide. People who worked to stop the slaughter before it happened cite Clarke as a heartless, malicious man who was “scandalously oblivious” to the evidence of the looming genocide. Although the U.S. could have taken many steps to prevent the tragedy, it did not due to Clarke’s “structurally empowered skepticism and stonewalling.” Instead, over a period of 100 days, approximately 800,000 people were killed.
Clarke and the UAE
In September 1994, high-ranking UAE and Saudi government ministers, such as Saudi Intelligence Minister Prince Turki al-Faisal, began frequent bird hunting expeditions in Afghanistan. It was reported that, “They would go out and see Osama, spend some time with him, talk with him, you know, live out in the tents, eat the simple food, engage in falconing, some other pursuits, ride horses.” Two members of the UAE royal family that participated in these trips were Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of the UAE.
As these UAE meetings with OBL occurred, Clarke’s relationship with the UAE royals blossomed. At the same time, he engaged in preparations for terrorist events on U.S. soil. In 1998, he chaired a tabletop exercise in which a Learjet filled with explosives would be flown on a suicide mission into a target in Washington, DC. At a conference in October 1998, Clarke predicted that America’s enemies “will go after our Achilles’ heel” which is “in Washington. It is in New York.” That was quite a prediction.
Clarke updated the COG plans, in early 1998, so that they could be utilized in the event of a terrorist attack like the one that he predicted that year (and that occurred in 2001). National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who was later caught stealing documents that had been requested by the 9/11 Commission, was the one to suggest that Clinton create the new Counterterrorism Czar position that Clarke would fill at the time of his prediction. Berger was also the one to introduce Clarke’s COG partner, James Woolsey, to Clinton. Woolsey went on to become Clinton’s CIA director.
In early February 1999, Clarke met with Al-Maktoum, one of the UAE royals known to hunt with Bin Laden, in the UAE. Al-Maktoum was a big supporter of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And although people often forget, two of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the UAE and the funding that supported the attacks flowed through the UAE, according to the official account.
Just a few months after Clarke’s UAE visit, in July 1999, the CIA claimed that Bin Laden had “been allowed to funnel money through the Dubai Islamic Bank in Dubai, which the United Arab Emirates Government effectively controls.” Apparently Bin Laden “had a relationship with the bank, which they believed had been arranged with the approval of the officials who control the bank.”
Bin Laden was not the only al Qaeda link to Clarke’s friends in the UAE. Reportedly, KSM was living in the city of Sharjah, UAE at the time of Clarke’s trip. Sharjah was reportedly a major center of al Qaeda activity then. The plot’s alleged money man Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi was also based in Sharjah. Saeed Sheikh, known as the 9/11 paymaster, was said to have established an al Qaeda base in the UAE while openly working with the Pakistani ISI. Some have suggested that Hawsawi and Sheikh were the same man.
Al-Maktoum, who Clarke met with in 1999, later tried to take over the management of six major U.S. ports. George W. Bush lobbied on his behalf but the deal fell through.
The 9/11 Commission Report has six references to the UAE, most of which can be found on page 138. One of these suggests that “but for the cooperation of the UAE, we would have killed Bin Ladin two years in advance of September 11.”
Therefore it is difficult to understand why the leading authority on counterterrorism in the U.S. would be meeting, and maintaining close personal relationships, with the UAE friends of Bin Laden just two years before 9/11. This was three years after Bin Laden had first declared holy war against the United States, and one year after his more recent such proclamation.
It is far more difficult to understand why Clarke was personally behind the failure of two CIA attempts to kill or capture Bin Laden in 1999. The first of these occurred just a few days after Clarke’s visit to the UAE. The CIA obtained information that OBL was hunting with UAE royals in Afghanistan at the time, and President Clinton was asked for permission to attack the camp. Clarke voted down that plan, and others within the U.S. government speculated that his ties to the UAE were behind his decision.
The next month, when the CIA had tracked Bin Laden’s location again and was prepared to take him out during another of the Afghanistan hunting trips, Clarke took it upon himself to alert his UAE friends about the CIA monitoring their meetings with Bin Laden. Of course, the UAE royals tipped off Bin Laden and the U.S. lost another opportunity to kill or capture its number one enemy. Considering that CIA plans are top secret national security priorities, and that OBL was wanted for the bombings in East Africa, Clarke’s action should have been seen as treason.
When questioned by Congressman Richard Burr as part of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, Clarke was evasive about his actions to protect his UAE friends and bin Laden. The fact that Clarke was allowed to testify without being under oath, in a special agreement in which his comments were considered only a “briefing,” was itself telling.
Regarding the second attempt that Clarke had foiled, Burr asked, “Did the CIA, in fact, brief you that the camp was an ideal situation, that they did have real time intelligence, that the collateral damage would be extremely limited, involving only the camp facility? And as a follow-up [to] my last question, Mr. Clarke, did, in fact, you call the royal family and inform them of the information we had about the intelligence of that camp and that exercise?” Clarke replied, “I think those facts are slightly wrong,” clarifying that the information the CIA had was not exactly real-time yet essentially admitting that he tipped off the UAE royals.
Somehow, Clarke’s two efforts to keep OBL from being captured or killed in 1999 slipped his mind when he testified to the 9/11 Commission. Apparently, these events were also not important enough for Clarke to mention when recently discussing the two “asshole” hijackers whose presence in the U.S. he now says the CIA kept from him and the FBI.
Who Knew About Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi?
The 2011 interview with Clarke began with discussion of the CIA’s monitoring of aJanuary, 2000 meeting in Malaysia among top al Qaeda operatives. Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi attended the meeting, as did KSM and several other al Qaeda leaders. Clarke claimed in the interview that the CIA followed the alleged 9/11 hijackers out of the meeting in Malaysia but then lost them in Bangkok.
Two months later, Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi arrived in Los Angeles, according to the CIA, and Clarke said many CIA agents knew about this. Clarke recalled that the CIA “stopped [information about Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi] from going to the FBI and the Defense Department.” He then cryptically stated, “We therefore conclude that there was a high level decision, in the CIA, ordering people not to share that information” and “I would have to think it was made by the Director [Tenet]”. To clarify why he suddenly thought this lack of information sharing was unusual, Clarke said of Tenet, “You have to understand…we were close friends, he called me several times a day, and shared the most trivial of information.”
But it was not only the CIA that knew about this meeting and the attendees. According to the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Michael Hayden, “In early 2000, at the time of the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, we had the Al-Hazmi brothers, Nawaf and Salem, as well as Khalid Al-Mihdhar, in our sights. We knew of their association with al-Qaeda, and we shared this information with the [intelligence] community.” The NSA knew about these suspects well before that, however, because an early 1999 NSA communications intercept referenced “Nawaf Al-Hazmi,” so it was clear that the NSA knew about him for more than two years before 9/11.Oddly enough, the Washington Post reported that Al-Hazmi, Al-Mihdhar and four of the other alleged hijackers were “living, working, planning and developing all their activities” near the entrance to NSA headquarters in Laurel, Maryland, in the months prior to the 9/11 attacks.
Al-Hazmi had been seen in San Diego as early as 1996 and he traveled extensively throughout the US, spending time in Cody, Wyoming and Phoenix, Arizona, and making a truck delivery to Canada. He and Al-Hazmi lived openly in the United States, using their real names and credit cards. They had season passes to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo and liked to hang out at a nude bar in San Diego. They went to a flight school there and said they wanted to learn how to fly Boeings. Instructor Rick Garza of Sorbi’s Flying Club turned down that request because he said they were “clueless,” didn’t even know how to draw an airplane, and could not communicate in English.
Al-Hazmi even worked at a Texaco gas station, although he didn’t need the money because someone in the UAE was regularly sending him thousands of dollars.
The money Al-Hazmi received was said to come from a UAE citizen named Ali Abdul Aziz Ali (a.k.a. Ammar al Baluchi), who was the nephew of KSM and cousin of Ramzi Yousef. Apparently, a majority of money that came to the hijackers was transferred through Ali Abdul Aziz Ali or Mustafa al-Hawsawi. The 9/11 Commission reported that Ali “helped them with plane tickets, traveler’s checks, and hotel reservations”, and “taught them about everyday aspects of life in the West, such as purchasing clothes and ordering food.”
Whether he was protecting his UAE friends or not, Clarke failed to act on information about al Qaeda operatives living in the U.S., just one month before the meeting in Malaysia. After an al Qaeda “millennium plot” was said to be broken up in Jordan, Clarke authorized an investigation of one of the plotters, Khalil Deek, who lived in Anaheim, California for most of the 1990s. The investigative team reported to Clarke and the NSC directly in December, 1999, stating that Deek’s next door neighbor was operating an al Qaeda sleeper cell in Anaheim. No action was taken by Clarke or the NSC.
A few months later, in April 2000, Clarke was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that terrorists “will come after our weakness, our Achilles Heel, which is largely here in the United States.” Although this was a bold statement, it was unfortunate that Clarke did not have time to track down and capture the terrorists that he knew were living and plotting in the United States.
The bombing of the USS Cole, which took the lives of 17 American sailors, occurred in October, 2000. The Washington Post reported that Al-Mihdhar had received training in Afghanistan in 1999 along with the operatives who were responsible for the Cole bombing. According to The Guardian, the Prime Minister of Yemen had accused Al-Mihdhar of being “one of the Cole perpetrators.”
Like 9/11, there are numerous unanswered questions about the Cole bombing and, as with 9/11, no justice has been done. A senior Yemeni security official claimed that “there was evidence that the U.S. itself was responsible for the explosion as part of a conspiracy to take control over the port of Aden.” The President of Yemen repeated a similar claim, saying on national television that the U.S. had plans to invade and occupy Aden after the bombing.
At the time of the attack, Clarke was part of a high level meeting to discuss the response, along with William Cohen, George Tenet, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, Michael Sheehan, and several others. In this meeting, Clarke was the hawk, proposing attacks throughout Afghanistan in response. None of the voting attendees supported Clarke’s plan and, after the meeting, Sheehan asked Clarke: “What’s it going to take to get them to hit al-Qaeda in Afghanistan? Does al-Qaeda have to hit the Pentagon?” Once again, that was quite a prediction.
In late May 2001, Clarke wrote a memorandum to Condoleezza Rice and her assistant, Stephen Hadley. The title of the memo was “Stopping Abu Zubaydah’s Attacks.” Cited as part of the evidence that the “System was Blinking Red,” the 9/11 Commission said the memo claimed that Zubaydah was preparing to launch “a series of major terrorist attacks” and, when they occurred, “we will wonder what more we could have done to stop them.”
Clarke went on to write in his 2004 book that Zubaydah, whose torture testimony presumably led to the capture of KSM and others, was one of “al Qaeda’s top operational managers.” Apparently, all of these claims were false as the U.S. government said in 2009 that Zubaydah was never associated with al Qaeda in any way.
Also in May 2001, the CIA gave its photos of the January 2000 Malaysian meeting to an intelligence operations specialist at FBI headquarters. One of the photos was of Al-Mihdhar, who FBI Director Mueller would later say was likely responsible for coordinating the movements of all the non-pilot hijackers. In June 2001, FBI and CIA officials discussed these photos and one FBI agent remembers that Al-Mihdhar was mentioned in these discussions.
Phoenix FBI agent Ken Williams wrote a memo to FBI headquarters, in July 2001, saying that Bin Laden’s followers were going to flight schools to train for terrorist attacks. If the FBI had followed through on this, it would have found Al-Hazmi very easily. He was reportedly staying in Phoenix with Hani Hanjour between January and June 2001. The memo was reviewed by the agency’s Bin Laden and Islamic extremist counterterrorism units, but it has been reported that neither Attorney General John Ashcroft nor newly appointed FBI Director Robert Mueller briefed President Bush and his national security staff about these revelations. Of course, this was well before the September 4th date that Clarke claims was the best chance for him and the FBI to have first found out.
Zacarias Moussaoui visited Malaysia as well, and stayed at the same condominium where the January 2000 meeting took place. The owner of the condo even signed letters that convinced U.S. authorities to allow Moussaoui into the country. Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar were referenced in papers that the FBI confiscated from Moussaoui when he was arrested in August 2001. FBI headquarters refused multiple requests from the FBI agents pursuing the case to search Moussaoui‘s possessions. Those confiscated possessions and papers would have immediately led the FBI to Atta, Al-Mihdhar, Al-Hazmi and the other alleged hijackers.
But the FBI had to know about these alleged hijackers well before that, because Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar lived with an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, for at least four months in late 2000. Shaikh was a “tested” asset working with the local FBI. Shaikh had regular visits from Mohammed Atta and Hani Hanjour as well and even introduced Hanjour to a neighbor.
Newsweek reported that, once, when Shaikh was called by his FBI agent handler, Shaikh said he couldn’t talk because Al-Mihdhar was in the room. This suggests that the FBI knew full well that this future 9/11 hijacker was living with an FBI asset. But a more damning fact is that the FBI refused to allow the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry to interview either Shaikh or his FBI handler.
The FBI absolutely knew about the movements of these alleged 9/11 hijackers. In January, 2001, it was the FBI that gave information to the CIA about how USS Cole bombing operatives had delivered money to al Qaeda planners at the time of the January 2000 Malaysia meeting. CNN reported, in 2002, that “At that point, the CIA – or the FBI for that matter – could have put Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar and all the others who attended the meeting in Malaysia on a watch list.”
In the new interview, Clarke further speculates that the reason that the CIA information was not shared with him, the DOD, and the FBI was because the CIA (i.e. Cofer Black as of June, 1999) was courting these two as sources within al Qaeda. Some might wonder why Clarke never thought of his good friends within the UAE royal family, who met with OBL regularly, as sources on al Qaeda. Surely people who met with OBL personally in the two years before 9/11, and were big supporters of al Qaeda like Clarke’s friend, Al-Maktoum, might have had some information to provide!
In any case, Clarke went on in his 2011 interview to suggest that Tenet and Black might have recruited Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar (who had been accused of perpetrating the USS Cole bombing) as inside sources on al Qaeda. To the CIA’s chagrin, Clarke implied, they at some point became double agents. It is amazing that Clarke insinuated that Black and Tenet were too dim-witted to see that these two Saudis might also be working for the Saudi government. Clarke appeared to be making the absurd suggestion that a CIA director could not predict that the suspected Saudi agent who arranged housing for Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar, arranged payments for them, and arranged to move them to San Diego, might have turned them into Saudi agents.
When Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar arrived in Los Angeles in early 2000, they were met by a strange benefactor named Omar Al-Bayoumi who brought them to Parkwood Apartments in San Diego. It is Al-Bayoumi that Clarke was referring to when he suggested the “Saudi has connections to the Saudi government, and some people believe that this guy was a Saudi intelligence officer. If we assume that this Saudi intelligence officer was the handler for these two, then presumably he would have been reporting to the CIA office in Los Angeles. There was a strong relationship between the CIA director and the minister of intelligence of Saudi Arabia [Prince Turki al Faisal].”
Although only two of the alleged 9/11 terrorists were said to be from the UAE, those being Marwan al-Shehhi and Fayez Banihammad, nearly all of the alleged hijackers arrived in the United States by traveling through the UAE.
Questions for Richard Clarke
Ignoring Clarke’s strong relationship to the UAE, as well as the UAE’s ownership of the BCCI network, and its support for the Taliban, al Qaeda, and OBL, Clarke was asked: “How long do you think it would take [the CIA] to decide – this isn’t working”? Clarke replied: “I don’t know. I do know that in August of 2001 they decide they’re gonna tell the FBI.”
This remark referred to the idea that it was not until August 21 that the FBI figured out that al Qaeda operatives were in the United States. This claim was transparently false because the FBI was, at the very least, already aware of Moussaoui and the Phoenix memo saying that terrorists were taking flight lessons in the United States. But in August, it was said that an FBI analyst assigned to the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center suddenly determined that Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar had entered the U.S. back in January 2000.
The U.S. government was, in the months before 9/11, warned by a dozen foreign governments to watch for a major terrorist attack being planned for inside the United States. It was reported that, on August 23, 2001, the Israeli Mossad gave U.S. officials an urgent warning in the form of a list of terrorists known to be living in the U.S. and panning to carry out an attack in the near future. The list included the names of Al-Hazmi, Al-Mihdhar, Al-Shehhi and Atta.
An “all points bulletin” was issued that same day, instructing the FBI and other agencies to put Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar on the watch list. Doing so would have made certain that these two were caught before the attacks. The FBI did not do so, however. The FBI also failed to use this information to thoroughly check national databases of bank records, drivers license records or the records of the credit cards that were used to purchase the 9/11 tickets. These facts render Clarke’s vague insinuations moot, because the FBI clearly wasn’t going to act on any relevant information it received.
In yet another example, on August 28, a report was received by the New York FBI office requesting that an investigation be conducted “to determine if Al-Mihdhar is still in the United States.” FBI headquarters immediately turned down the request. An FBI agent wrote an email in response, saying “someday someone will die [because of this]. Let’s hope the [FBI’s] National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since OBL [Osama bin Laden] is now getting the most protection.”
All this was before September 4 – the date that Clarke says would have given plenty of time for him and the FBI to catch Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar – if only they had known the two were in the United States.
Hopefully Clarke’s next interview will be part of legal proceedings in which he is a defendant answering for his failures related to 9/11. When that happens, questions that should be posed to him include the following:
- Is the COG plan that you and Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George H.W. Bush, Kenneth Duberstein, James Woolsey created, and that you implemented on 9/11, still in effect?
- Do you have any information on how your friends in the UAE royal family used the terrorist network BCCI after they bought it?
- Do you have any explanation for how you could have predicted in 1998, at the same time that you updated the COG plan to be a response to a terrorist attack, that America’s enemies “will go after our Achilles’ heel” which is “in Washington. It is in New York.”?
- When you met with UAE Defense Minister Al-Maktoum in February 1999, just days before the CIA planned to kill or capture Bin Laden as he was meeting with UAE royals, who else did you meet with?
- Why did you vote down the CIA plan to kill or capture Bin Laden while he was hunting with UAE royals in February 1999?
- Why did you expose the CIA’s secret plan, without approval from the CIA or the president, to kill or capture Bin Laden in March 1999 as he was meeting with UAE royals again?
- Don’t you think those two actions on your part were far more detrimental to the United States than any of your recent, vague speculations?
- Did you communicate with NSA Director Michael Hayden between January 2000 and the attacks of 9/11? If so, why did you not, in your 2011 interview, accuse him of withholding information on Al-Hazmi and Al-Mihdhar? He has spoken openly of having known about their presence in the U.S. and said that he did share it with the intelligence community.
- Why did you, as Counterterrorism Czar, take no action in December 1999 when you and the NSC were given the evidence that Khalil Deek’s next door neighbor was operating an al Qaeda sleeper cell in Anaheim, CA?
- You appear to suggest that neither you nor the FBI knew that Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi lived with Abdussattar Shaikh, a tested FBI asset, for at least four months in the year 2000. Is that correct and, if so, don’t you think that contradicts your claim that – “I know how all this stuff works, I’ve been working it for 30 years. You can’t snowball me on this stuff.”?
- On what evidence did you base your May 29, 2001 memo and your 2004 book, both of which claimed that Abu Zubaydah was a major al Qaeda terrorist? What do you say now that the U.S. government has abandoned those claims?
- Do you know why the FBI would not allow Abdussattar Shaikh or his FBI handler to be interviewed as part of the 9/11 investigation?
- These days, when you’re talking with your UAE friends in your offices in the UAE, do you ever discuss 9/11, the hijackers and plotters who spent their time there, and the UAE money that financed the 9/11 attacks?
Clarke now works with his COG partner, former CIA Director James Woolsey, at Paladin Capital, which has offices in New York and the UAE. Clarke is also the chairman Good Harbor Consulting, where he is in partnership with many people who are making a fortune off the War on Terror.
Additionally, Clarke stands out prominently as the only American on the board of trustees of the UAE government-sponsored Khalifa University. Good Harbor Consulting has an office in Abu Dhabi as well, and Clarke is known to have a “big footprint” in the UAE.
Notes to Chapter 6
- For a description and link to the 2011 interview with Richard Clarke, see Jason Leopold, Former Counterterrorism Czar Accuses Tenet, Other CIA Officials of Cover-Up, Truth-out.org, August 11, 2011
- NYPD Confidential, Charm school for top cops, May 6, 1996
- Grossman is a 9/11 person of interest according to FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. See Philip Giraldi, Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?, The American Conservative, November 1, 2009. Also note that Grossman was reportedly one of the people who met with Pakistani ISI General Mahmud Ahmed the week of 9/11. See Michel Chossudovsky, Political Deception: The Missing Link behind 9-11, Centre for Research on Globalisation, June 20, 2002
- Peter Dale Scott, Continuity of Government: Is the State of Emergency Superseding our Constitution?, GlobalResearch.ca, November 24, 2010
- James Mann, The Armageddon Plan, The Atlantic, March 2004
- Howard Kurtz, ‘Armageddon’ Plan Was Put Into Action on 9/11, Clarke Says , The Washington Post, April 7, 2004
- Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt, Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret, The Washington Post, March 1, 2002
- Peter Dale Scott, ‘Continuity of Government’ Planning: War, Terror and the Supplanting of the U.S. Constitution, Japan Focus
- Leslie Filson, Air war over America: Sept. 11 alters face of air defense , mission, Headquarters 1st Air Force, Public Affairs Office, 2003
- History Commons 9/11 Timeline, Profile: Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
- Nafeez M. Ahmed, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation And The Anatomy Of Terrorism, Olive Branch Press, 2005. See also, History Commons Complete 9/11 Timeline, Context of ‘July 1993: Ramzi Yousef and KSM Attempt to Assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister’.
- Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, Scandals: Not Just a Bank, TIME, September 2, 1991
- Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin, False Profits: The Inside Story of BCCI, The World’s Most Corrupt Financial Empire, Houghton Mifflin, 1992
- The BCCI Affair: A Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate, December 1992, Abu DhabiI: BCCI’S founding and majority shareholders, http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1992_rpt/bcci/14abudhabi.htm
- Congressional Research Service, Terrorist Attacks by Al Qaeda, March 31, 2004, http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/033104.pdf
- Matthew Everett, 9/11 Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke and the Rwandan Genocide, Shoestring 911 blog, February 23, 2010
- History Commons 9/11 Timeline, Profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- The story of Berger’s inexplicable attempts to steal 9/11-related documents from the National Archives is told in Philip Shenon’s book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, Hachette Book Group, 2008
- James Risen and Benjamin Weiser, U.S. Officials Say Aid for Terrorists Came Through Two Persian Gulf Nations, The New York Times, July 8, 1999
- Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11–and America’s Response, HarperCollins, 2004
- Wikipedia page for Dubai Ports World controversy
- PBS News Hour, Bin Laden’s Fatwa, August, 1996
- PBS News Hour, Al Qaeda’s Fatwa, February 23, 1998
- Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, Penguin Books, 2004, pp 447-450
- The 9/11 Commission Report, 2004, p 138
- Richard Clarke’s June 2002 “briefing” testimony to the Joint Congressional Inquiry was classified for years and was only released after significant effort. It can be accessed at the website of the Federation of American Scientists, http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_hr/061102clarke.pdf
- History Commons 9/11 Timeline, Profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Context of ‘August 2001: Six 9/11 Hijackers Live Near Entrance to NSA’
- History Commons 9/11 Timeline, Profile: Rick Garza
- Paul Thompson, Alhazmi and Almihdhar: The 9/11 Hijackers Who Should Have Been Caught, HisotryCommons.org
- The Middle East Media Research Institute, Al-Ahram Al-Arabi: A High-Ranking Yemenite Intelligence Official Blames the US for the Cole Bombing, July 17, 2001
- Kevin R. Ryan, The USS Cole: Twelve years later, no justice or understanding, DigWithin.net, October 7, 2012
- Richard Miniter, Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror, Regnery Publishers, 2003
- 9/11 Commission Report, footnote 11 to Chapter 8
- 9/11 Commission Report, p 256
- Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Simon & Schuster, 2004
- Kevin R. Ryan, Abu Zubaydah Poses a Real Threat to Al Qaeda, DigWithin.net, October 2012
- History Commons 9/11 Timeline, Alhazmi and Almihdhar: The 9/11 Hijackers Who Should Have Been Caught
- See 2011 interview with Richard Clarke
- Paul Thompson, They Tried to Warn Us: Foreign Intelligence Warnings Before 9/11, History Commons Complete 9/11 Timeline
- Khalifa University website, http://www.kustar.ac.ae/aboutus/bot/
- Intelligence Online, Richard Clarke’s Big Footprint in United Arab Emirates