Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Don't Excuse The Saudis, But...

In the summer, I like to relax poolside and catch up on my reading. Before 9/11, most of my poolside reading focused on lighter material. Now I concentrate on various news publications, including the daily newspaper and Time Magazine. Yesterday my reading did not result in much relaxation because, in the June 27 edition of Time, I found a disturbing article which may portend deeper problems within our own intelligence agencies.

TIME:

Who Blew the Leads?
The Saudis get blamed for not revealing more after 9/11. Maybe they said more than the FBI took in
By ADAM ZAGORIN

"In the wake of 9/11, Saudi authorities came under criticism in the U.S. for sluggishness in investigating the attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. Now it appears that the U.S. bears some responsibility for the slackness with which leads were pursued. According to several former employees of the U.S. embassy in Riyadh, the FBI legal attache's office housed within the embassy was often in disarray during the months that followed 9/11. When an FBI supervisor arrived to clean up the mess, she found a mountain of paper and, for security reasons, ordered wholesale shredding that resulted in the destruction of unprocessed documents relating to the 9/11 investigations. A letter obtained by Time confirms that the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the matter.

"In 2001 the FBI's Saudi office comprised a secretary and two agents--Wilfred Rattigan and his lieutenant, Egyptian-American Gamal Abdel-Hafiz. They also oversaw six nearby countries. The FBI sent reinforcements within two weeks of 9/11, but it appears that the bureau's team never got on top of the thousands of leads flowing in from the U.S. and Saudi governments. In a June 6 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, the Senate Judiciary Committee renewed a request for information about allegations that the FBI's Riyadh office was 'delinquent in pursuing thousands of leads' related to 9/11.

"When the senior FBI supervisor was sent to the Riyadh office nearly a year after 9/11, she found secret documents literally falling out of file drawers, stacked in binders on tables and wedged behind cabinets, according to an FBI briefing to Congress. The process of sending classified material to the U.S. had fallen so far behind that a backlog of boxes, each filled with three feet of paper containing secret, time-sensitive leads, had built up. Since embassies must be prepared for the possibility of a hostile takeover, the rule is that officials should need no more than 15 minutes to destroy all their sensitive documents. Accordingly, the supervisor ordered the shredding of hundreds, perhaps thousands of pages, many of them related directly to the ongoing 9/11 investigation, an FBI briefer told Congress....

"...The result, they say, was that over two or more months, agents had to go back to Saudi security officials to try to obtain copies of what had been destroyed. 'It was leads, suspicious-activity material, information on airline pilots,' says an employee. In a deposition for a lawsuit filed by Bassem Youssef, the FBI's previous No. 1 in Riyadh, Mueller conceded that there were problems in the office after 9/11.

"The Judiciary Committee letter, signed by chairman Arlen Specter and members Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy, mentioned an allegation that Rattigan and Abdel-Hafiz at one point could not be contacted by the FBI and 'may have surrendered their FBI cell phones to Saudi nationals.' That charge possibly arose from a working trip that the agents' colleagues say the two made to Mecca during the Muslim pilgrimage season. [Note: Only Muslims are allowed to make a hajj to Mecca. I learned this fact from Yaroslav Trofimov's book entitled Faith At War. Was the trip to Mecca a "working trip," or was it something else?] The pair were required to give up their FBI-provided cell phones just as an FBI official in the U.S. was trying to get in touch with them.... The bureau also said an investigation concluded that none of the management issues at the Riyadh office 'rose to the level that would impact public safety.'"

In light of the fact that, to this day, nobody seems to know exactly what those shredded documents contained, just how is the FBI so certain that public safety was not compromised?

Quoting again from the article:

"Rattigan and Abdel-Hafiz have left Saudi Arabia, but both still work as FBI agents."

Isn't that just wonderful? Two incompetents, both Muslims and possibly Wahhabists at that, are still within the ranks of the FBI!

In the very next sentence, the article goes on to state the following:

"Rattigan is suing the FBI, claiming that it discriminated against him on the basis of his race, religion and national origin. (He is an African American of Jamaican descent who converted to Islam in Saudi Arabia in the months after 9/11.)"

After 9/11, this man converted to Islam? Is that unbelievable, or what? Isn't the prevailing form of Islam in Saudi Wahhabism? Weren't the 9/11 jihadists Wahhabists?

The article concludes with these words:

"Rattigan at times wore Arab headgear and robes on work assignments in Saudi Arabia, as did Abdel-Hafiz, also a Muslim, which did not go down well with some FBI managers in Washington. Rattigan claims that among the ways the FBI thwarted him was by refusing to provide him with adequate resources to cope with the workload after 9/11."

"The FBI thwarted" Rattigan? Is it possible that what impeded Rattigan was his having become a follower of the ideology which is in direct conflict with his oath of loyalty to the United States? Think Sergeant Akbar here. You remember him, right? He's the soldier who turned on his own in Iraq and rolled grenades into the tents of his own division. Akbar is currently under a death sentence for treason.

Our Constitution prohibits discrimination based on religion, and I support that ideal. Islam, however, is more than a religion. Islam is first a political ideology, an ideology which reaches far beyond one's peaceful practice of a personal faith--and therein lies danger.We need to sever our ties with Saudi Arabia, the home of Wahhabism. We also need to check our own ranks. If our intelligence-gathering remains compromised, _________Reader, you can fill in the rest.

5 Comments:

At 6/29/2005 11:18 PM, Blogger Mustang said...

I think it is a safe assumption that Muslims with an extremist agenda have infiltrated the ranks of important agencies of the US government. They are now in a position to impede raw and analytical intelligence, and this is precisely where they should not allowed to be.

But as you said, our "political correctness" has opened the doors that may now never be closed. Several years ago, Tom Clancy wrote a book (the title escapes me) where Iranian officials developed a device that would release the e-bola virus from an aerosol container. These were placed at civic centers, large shopping malls, airports, train stations, etc. In the novel, a million people lost their lives, and it so happens that one of the president's secret service agents was also a Muslim-sleeper terrorist, who in fact attempted to kill the president.

Okay, fairy tales . . . right? Maybe.

 
At 6/29/2005 11:59 PM, Blogger Warren said...

Over the last 35 years, I have known several employees and former employees of the NSA, Secret Service and CIA. Although I do not know any present or former FBI agents, I imagine the internal politics are similar.

We have allowed an inner structure in these agencies that has seen to a bureaucratization. Each bureaucrat jealously guards their own turf and hinders everyone considered an "outsider", even within their own service.

For reasons of politics, agents have been allowed to form, (essentially), unions and minority subgroupings, which are beyond the control of their superiors . Capability and effectiveness have become second place to minority considerations.

I believe that the Secret Service isn't quite as bad as the FBI or CIA, but neither does the Secret Service have the extensive investigative reach.

I am hopeful, something can be done through the present re-organization. But if the Liberals regain power, all bets are off!

It will become, "Social Experiment # 134625 part C".

 
At 6/30/2005 6:24 PM, Blogger Esther said...

AOW -- excellent post. And Mustang --spot on with your comment. Our government is probably teaming with fifth columnists. I hate to say it but maybe it's time to revisit our criteria for security clearances.

 
At 6/30/2005 6:49 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Today the Washington Post ran a front-page story @
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2005/06/29/
AR2005062900220_pf.html

The article is entitled "Bush Approves Spy Agency Changes." The first few paragraphs read as follows:
"President Bush ordered another shake-up of the nation's intelligence services yesterday, forming new national security divisions within both the FBI and the Justice Department and, for the first time, putting a broad swath of the FBI under the authority of the nation's spy chief.

"Building on previous changes required by Congress, the reorganization cements the authority of the new director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, over most of the FBI's $3 billion intelligence budget. It also gives him clear authority to approve the hiring of the FBI's top national security official and, through that official, to communicate with FBI agents and analysts in the field on intelligence matters.

"The plan represents a particularly sharp rebuke to the historically independent FBI, which has struggled to remake itself into a counterterrorism agency since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has been the target of withering reviews from both inside and outside the government. The moves also mark a victory for the CIA, which has endured its own blistering critiques but has successfully fought off proposals to cede some of its authority to the Pentagon."

The very next paragraph raised my blood pressure:

"Civil liberties advocates immediately criticized the changes at the FBI, arguing that they represent a radical step toward the creation of a secret police force in the United States. Many Justice prosecutors and FBI agents had also fiercely opposed the changes but were overruled by Bush's homeland security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend, officials said."

Which FBI agents objected?

 
At 7/01/2005 1:46 AM, Blogger Michael said...

yep, in a perfect world they don't want to kill us. but this is not a perfect world.

 

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