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Profile: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry

 
  

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9/11 Congressional Inquiry actively participated in the following events:

 
  

June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000: Hijackers Receive $100,000 in Funding from United Arab Emirates Location      Complete 911 Timeline

       Someone using the aliases “Isam Mansour,” “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi,” “Mr. Ali,” and “Hani (Fawaz Trdng)” sends a total of $109,910 to the 9/11 hijackers in a series of transfers between these dates. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02; Financial Times, 11/30/01; MSNBC, 12/11/01; New York Times, 12/10/01; Newsweek, 12/2/01] The money is sent from Sharjah, an emirate in the United Arab Emirates that is allegedly a center for al-Qaeda's illegal financial dealings. The identity of this moneyman “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi” is in dispute. It has been claimed that the name “Mustafa Ahmed” is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh, a known ISI and al-Qaeda agent who sends the hijackers money in August 2001. [CNN, 10/6/01] India claims that Pakistani ISI Director Mahmood orders Saeed to send the hijackers the money at this time. [Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01; Frontline, 10/6/01] French author Bernard-Henri Levy claims to have evidence from sources inside both Indian and US governments of phone calls between Sheikh and Mahmood during this same time period, and he sees a connection between the timing of the calls and the money transfers (see Summer 2000). [Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Levy, pp 320-324] FBI Director Mueller's theory is that this money is sent by “Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.” However, of the four aliases used in the different transactions, Mueller connects this man only to three, and not to the alias “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi.” [Associated Press, 9/26/02; New York Times, 12/10/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] It appears that most of the money is sent to an account shared by Marwan Alshehhi and Mohamed Atta, who would obtain money orders and distribute the money to the other hijackers. [CNN, 10/1/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02; MSNBC, 12/11/01] The New York Times later suggests that the amount passed from “Mustafa Ahmed” to the Florida bank accounts right up until the day before the attack is around $325,000. The rest of the $500,000-$600,000 they receive for US expenses comes from another, still unknown source. [New York Times, 7/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, United Arab Emirates, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Mahmood Ahmed, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Saeed Sheikh, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Robert S. Mueller III, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, al-Qaeda, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, Fawaz Trdng, Isam Mansour
          

September 18, 2002: 9/11 Victims' Relatives Raise Questions About Agencies' Conduct      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Kristen Breitweiser.
Two 9/11 victims' relatives testify before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald died at the WTC, asks how the FBI was so quickly able to assemble information on the hijackers. She cites a New York Times article stating that agents descended on flight schools within hours of the attacks. “How did the FBI know where to go a few hours after the attacks?” she asks. “Were any of the hijackers already under surveillance?” [MSNBC, 9/18/02] She adds, “Our intelligence agencies suffered an utter collapse in their duties and responsibilities leading up to and on September 11th. But their negligence does not stand alone. Agencies like the Port Authority, the City of NY, the FAA, the INS, the Secret Service, NORAD, the Air Force, and the airlines also failed our nation that morning.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] Stephen Push states, “If the intelligence community had been doing its job, my wife, Lisa Raines, would be alive today.” He cites the government's failure to place Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on a terrorist watch list until long after they were photographed meeting with alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Malaysia (see January 6-9, 2000). [MSNBC, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Stephen Push, Secret Service, Federal Aviation Administration, Kristen Breitweiser, Federal Bureau of Investigation, City of New York, Immigration and Naturalization Service, New York Port Authority, US Department of the Air Force, al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Lisa Raines, Khalid Almihdhar
          

October 5, 2002: FBI Refuses to Allow FBI Informant to Testify Before 9/11 Inquiry      Complete 911 Timeline

       The New York Times reports that the FBI is refusing to allow Abdussattar Shaikh, the FBI informant who lived with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in the second half of 2000, to testify before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. The FBI claims the informer would have nothing interesting to say. The Justice Department also wants to learn more about the informant. [New York Times, 10/5/02] The FBI also tries to prevent Shaikh's handler Steven Butler from testifying, but Butler does end up testifying before a secret session on October 9, 2002. Shaikh does not testify at all. [Washington Post, 10/11/02 (B)] Butler's testimony uncovers many curious facts about Shaikh. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); US News and World Report, 11/29/02; New York Times, 11/23/02]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Steven Butler, Abdussattar Shaikh, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar
          

October 9, 2002: FBI Agent Handled Hijackers' Landlord      Complete 911 Timeline

       San Diego FBI agent Steven Butler reportedly gives “explosive” testimony to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. Butler, recently retired, has been unable to speak to the media, but he was the handler for Abdussattar Shaikh, an FBI informant who rented a room to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Butler claims he might have uncovered the 9/11 plot if the CIA had provided the FBI with more information earlier about Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [New York Times, 10/22/02] He says, “It would have made a huge difference.” He suggests they would have quickly found the two hijackers because they were “very, very close.” “We would have immediately opened ... investigations. We would have given them the full court press. We would ... have done everything—physical surveillance, technical surveillance, and other assets.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25/03] Butler discloses that he had been monitoring a flow of Saudi Arabian money that wound up in the hands of two of the 9/11 hijackers, but his supervisors failed to take any action on the warnings. It is not known when Butler started investigating the money flow, or when he warned his supervisors. [US News and World Report, 11/29/02] The FBI unsuccessfully tries to prevent Butler from testifying. [Washington Post, 10/11/02] This testimony doesn't stop the US government from deporting Basnan to Saudi Arabia several weeks later. [Washington Post, 11/24/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Abdussattar Shaikh, Central Intelligence Agency, Steven Butler
          

October 17, 2002: NSA Denies Having Indications of 9/11 Planning      Complete 911 Timeline

       NSA Director Michael Hayden testifies before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that the “NSA had no [indications] that al-Qaeda was specifically targeting New York and Washington ... or even that it was planning an attack on US soil.” Before 9/11, the “NSA had no knowledge ... that any of the attackers were in the United States.” Supposedly, a post-9/11 NSA review found no intercepts of calls involving any of the 19 hijackers. [Reuters, 10/17/02; USA Today, 10/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02 (B)] Yet, in the summer of 2001 (see Summer 2001), the NSA intercepted communications between Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and hijacker Mohamed Atta, when he was in charge of operations in the US. [Independent, 6/6/02; Independent, 9/15/02] What was said between the two has not been revealed. The NSA also intercepted multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the US in the days before 9/11 (see Early September 2001). But who was called or what was said has not been revealed. [ABC News, 2/18/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Michael Hayden, National Security Agency
          

November 22, 2002: Newsweek Reports Saudi Royals Sent Money to Hijackers' Associates      Complete 911 Timeline

       Newsweek reports that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar may have received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan. Newsweek bases its report on information leaked from the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry in October. [Newsweek, 11/22/02; Newsweek, 11/22/02; Washington Post, 11/23/02; New York Times, 11/23/02] Al-Bayoumi is in Saudi Arabia by this time. Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia just five days earlier. Saudi officials and Princess Haifa immediately deny any connections to Islamic militants. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Newsweek reports that while the money trail “could be perfectly innocent ... it is nonetheless intriguing—and could ultimately expose the Saudi government to some of the blame for 9/11...” [Newsweek, 11/22/02] Some Saudi newspapers, which usually reflect government thinking, claim the leak is blackmail to pressure Saudi Arabia into supporting war with Iraq. [MSNBC, 11/27/02] Senior US government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This causes a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 11/23/02] A number of senators, including Richard Shelby (R), John McCain (R), Mitch O'Connell (R), Joe Lieberman (D), Bob Graham (D), Joseph Biden (D), and Charles Schumer (D), express concern about the Bush administration's action (or non-action) regarding the Saudi royal family and its possible role in funding Islamic militants. [Reuters, 11/24/02; New York Times, 11/25/02] Lieberman says, “I think it's time for the president to blow the whistle and remember what he said after September 11—you're either with us or you're with the al-Qaeda.” [ABC News, 11/25/02] FBI officials strongly deny any deliberate connection between these two men and the Saudi government or the hijackers [Time, 11/24/03] , but later even more connections between them and both entities are revealed. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Joseph Lieberman, Mitch O'Connell, Joseph Biden, Omar al-Bayoumi, Charles Schumer, Richard Shelby, Osama Basnan, Central Intelligence Agency, Bush administration, John McCain, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Bob Graham
          

December 11, 2002: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry Blames Bush and Tenet      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry concludes its seven month investigation of the performance of government agencies before the 9/11 attacks. A report hundreds of pages long has been written, but only nine pages of findings and 15 pages of recommendations are released at this time, and those have blacked out sections. [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] After months of wrangling over what has to be classified, the final report is released in July 2003 (see July 24, 2003). In the findings released at this time, the inquiry accuses the Bush administration of refusing to declassify information about possible Saudi Arabian financial links to US-based Islamic militants, criticizes the FBI for not adapting into a domestic intelligence bureau after the attacks and says the CIA lacked an effective system for holding its officials accountable for their actions. Asked if 9/11 could have been prevented, Senator Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, gives “a conditional yes.” Graham says the Bush administration has given Americans an “incomplete and distorted picture” of the foreign assistance the hijackers may have received. [ABC News, 12/10/02] Graham further says, “There are many more findings to be disclosed” that Americans would find “more than interesting,” and he and others express frustration that information that should be released is being kept classified by the Bush administration. [St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Many of these findings remain classified after the Inquiry's final report is released. Senator Richard Shelby (R), the vice chairman, singles out six people as having “failed in significant ways to ensure that this country was as prepared as it could have been”: CIA Director Tenet; Tenet's predecessor, John Deutch; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; NSA Director Michael Hayden; Hayden's predecessor, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minihan; and former Deputy Director Barbara McNamara. [Washington Post, 12/11/02 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/11/02] Shelby says that Tenet should resign. “There have been more failures on his watch as far as massive intelligence failures than any CIA director in history. Yet he's still there. It's inexplicable to me.” [Reuters, 12/10/02; PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] But the Los Angeles Times criticizes their plan of action: “A list of 19 recommendations consists largely of recycled proposals and tepid calls for further study of thorny issues members themselves could not resolve.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Bush administration, Bob Graham, Richard Shelby, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michael Hayden, Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi Arabia, Kenneth Minihan, George Tenet, Barbara McNamara, John Deutch, Louis J. Freeh
          

January-July 2003: Bush Administration Delays Release of 9/11 Congressional Inquiry Report      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry is originally expected to release its complete and final report in January 2003, but the panel spends seven months negotiating with the Bush administration about what material can be made public, and the final report is not released until July 2003. [Washington Post, 7/27/03] The administration originally wanted two thirds of the report to remain classified. [Associated Press, 5/31/03] Former Senator Max Cleland (D), member of the 9/11 Commission, later claims, “The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaeda) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war. There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin Laden's terrorist followers ... What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends. The reason this report was delayed for so long—deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created—is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out. Had this report come out in January [2003] like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration.” [UPI, 7/25/03]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, 9/11 Commission, Max Cleland, Osama bin Laden, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Bush administration
          

March 27, 2003: Security Clearance of 9/11 Commission Members Stalled      Complete 911 Timeline

       It is reported that “most members” of the 9/11 Commission still have not received security clearances. [Washington Post, 3/27/03] For instance, Slade Gorton, picked in December 2002, is a former senator with a long background in intelligence issues. Fellow commissioner Lee Hamilton says, “It's kind of astounding that someone like Senator Gorton can't get immediate clearance. It's a matter we are concerned about.” The commission is said to be at a “standstill” because of the security clearance issue, and cannot even read the classified findings of the previous 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. [Seattle Times, 3/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Slade Gorton, Lee Hamilton, 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry
          

July 24, 2003: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry Says Almost Every Government Agency Failed      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Senator Bob Graham and Representative Porter Goss co-chair the Congressional Inquiry.
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report comes out. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Officially, the report was written by the 37 members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, but in practice, co-chairmen Bob Graham (D) and Porter Goss (R) exercised “near total control over the panel, forbidding the inquiry's staff to speak to other lawmakers.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/29/02] Both Republican and Democrats in the panel complained how the two co-chairmen withheld information and controlled the process. [Palm Beach Post, 9/21/02] The report was finished in December 2002 and some findings were released then, but the next seven months were spent in negotiation with the Bush administration over what material had to remain censored. The Inquiry had a very limited mandate, focusing just on the handling of intelligence before 9/11. It also completely ignores or censors out all mentions of intelligence from foreign governments. Thomas Kean, the chairman of 9/11 Commission says the Inquiry's mandate covered only “one-seventh or one-eighth” of what his newer investigation will hopefully cover. [Washington Post, 7/27/03] The report blames virtually every government agency for failures:
Newsweek's main conclusion is: “The investigation turned up no damning single piece of evidence that would have led agents directly to the impending attacks. Still, the report makes it chillingly clear that law-enforcement and intelligence agencies might very well have uncovered the plot had it not been for blown signals, sheer bungling—and a general failure to understand the nature of the threat.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03]
According to the New York Times, the report also concludes, “the FBI and CIA had known for years that al-Qaeda sought to strike inside the United States, but focused their attention on the possibility of attacks overseas.” [New York Times, 7/26/03]
CIA Director Tenet was “either unwilling or unable to marshal the full range of Intelligence Community resources necessary to combat the growing threat.” [Washington Post, 7/25/03]
US military leaders were “reluctant to use ... assets to conduct offensive counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan” or to “support or participate in CIA operations directed against al-Qaeda.” [Washington Post, 7/25/03]
“There was no coordinated ... strategy to track terrorist funding and close down their financial support networks” and the Treasury Department even showed “reluctance” to do so. [Washington Post, 7/25/03]
According to the Washington Post, the NSA took “an overly cautious approach to collecting intelligence in the United States and offered ‘insufficient collaboration’ with the FBI's efforts.” [Washington Post, 7/25/03] Many sections remain censored, especially an entire chapter detailing possible Saudi support for 9/11. The Bush administration insisted on censoring even information that was already in the public domain. [Newsweek, 5/25/03 (B)] The Inquiry attempted to determine “to what extent the president received threat-specific warnings” but received very little information. There was a focus on learning what was in Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001), but the White House refused to release this information, citing “executive privilege.” [Washington Post, 7/25/03 (B); Newsday, 8/7/03]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, US Department of the Treasury, 9/11 Commission, Saudi Arabia, Thomas Kean, Bush administration, Bob Graham, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Porter J. Goss
          

July 28, 2003: Bush Opposes Release of Full 9/11 Congressional Inquiry Report      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal after meeting Bush over the 9/11 report.
In the wake of the release of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report, pressure builds to release most of the still-censored sections of the report, but on this day President Bush says he is against the idea. [New York Times, 7/29/03; Associated Press, 7/29/03 (B)] Through an obscure rule, the Senate could force the release of the material with a majority vote [USA Today, /5/29/03] , but apparently the number of votes in favor of this idea falls just short. MSNBC reports that “the decision to keep the passage secret ... created widespread suspicion among lawmakers that the administration was trying to shield itself and its Saudi allies from embarrassment. ... Three of the four leaders of the joint congressional investigation into the attacks have said they believed that much of the material on foreign financing was safe to publish but that the administration insisted on keeping it secret.” [MSNBC, 7/28/03] Senator Richard Shelby (R), one of the main authors of the report, states that “90, 95 percent of it would not compromise, in my judgment, anything in national security.” Bush ignores a reporter's question on Shelby's assessment. [Associated Press, 7/29/03 (B)] Even the Saudi government claims to be in favor of releasing the censored material so it can better respond to criticism. [MSNBC, 7/28/03] All the censored material remains censored; however, some details of the most controversial censored sections are leaked to the media.
People and organizations involved: Richard Shelby, George W. Bush, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Saudi Arabia
          

August 1-3, 2003: Leaks Hint at Saudi Involvement in 9/11      Complete 911 Timeline

       In the wake of the release of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's full report, anonymous officials leak some details from a controversial, completely censored 28-page section that focuses on possible Saudi support for 9/11. According to leaks given to the New York Times, the section says that Omar al-Bayoumi and/or Osama Basnan “had at least indirect links with two hijackers [who] were probably Saudi intelligence agents and may have reported to Saudi government officials.” It also says that Anwar Al Aulaqi “was a central figure in a support network that aided the same two hijackers.” Most connections drawn in the report between the men, Saudi intelligence, and 9/11 is said to be circumstantial. [New York Times, 8/2/03] One key section is said to read, “On the one hand, it is possible that these kinds of connections could suggest, as indicated in a CIA memorandum, ‘incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists... On the other hand, it is also possible that further investigation of these allegations could reveal legitimate, and innocent, explanations for these associations.’ ” Some of the most sensitive information involves what US agencies are doing currently to investigate Saudi business figures and organizations. [Associated Press, 8/2/03] According to the New Republic, the section outlines “connections between the hijacking plot and the very top levels of the Saudi royal family.” An anonymous official is quoted as saying, “There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities. They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government. ... If the people in the administration trying to link Iraq to al-Qaeda had one-one-thousandth of the stuff that the 28 pages has linking a foreign government to al-Qaeda, they would have been in good shape. ... If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight.” [New Republic, 8/1/03] The section also is critical that the issue of foreign government support remains unresolved. One section reads, “In their testimony, neither CIA or FBI officials were able to address definitely the extent of such support for the hijackers, globally or within the United States, or the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature. This gap in intelligence community coverage is unacceptable.” [Boston Globe, 8/3/03]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Omar al-Bayoumi, Osama Basnan, Anwar Al Aulaqi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

February 2004: Bush Administration Fails to Act on 9/11 Inquiry Recommendations      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, which ended in late 2002, made 19 urgent recommendations to make the nation safer against future terrorist attacks. However, more then one year later, the White House has only implemented two of the recommendations. Furthermore, investigative leads have not been pursued. Senator Bob Graham (D) complains, “It is incomprehensible why this administration has refused to aggressively pursue the leads that our inquiry developed.” He is also upset that the White House classified large portions of the final report. [New York Observer, 2/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Bob Graham
          

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