9/11 – FBI and CIA fumble and bumble

There’s no better example of how things have changed since 9/11 than the latest terrorist threat warning tonight. Before September 11th we, the American people, never heard such a warning. Spokesmen for Department of Homeland Security stated that there has been a “specific, credible but unconfirmed” threat against the United States. President Obama was briefed about the threat early this morning. Now, in the post-9/11 era, we know that Al Qaeda likes these important dates. Everybody in Homeland Security is keenly aware that Al Qaeda would like to try to attack inside the United States on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

I would like to take you to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in early January of 2000. Through various means, the intelligence community became aware of a high-level terrorist/Al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar (together these terrorists retrained passengers on Flight 77 which was thrown into the Pentagon) were two of the participants of this meeting. The NSA and the CIA were already aware of the existence of both men. Both participated in the holy war in Bosnia. Both pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden sometime in 1998. For reasons that I’ve never been able to understand, our intelligence services allowed the Malaysian intelligence service to monitor this meeting. The Malaysian intelligence service was unable to place a listening device in the meeting. We were able to get pictures that were relayed to us from the Malaysian intelligence service. It is now known that the bombing of the USS Cole was discussed at this Malaysian meeting. Had we had a listening device in the meeting, it is possible that we could have thwarted that terrorist plot. It is also reasonable to assume that the attacks of 9/11 were also discussed, although I have not been able to collaborate this in any of my reading.

So the CIA has this information on al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. Somehow, when this meeting in Kuala Lumpur breaks up, the US intelligence service loses all track of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. It’s never been clearly explained what the CIA did with the photographs of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. It is clear that the CIA knew that they were terrorists. But the CIA did not alert the Immigration and Naturalization Service (responsible for border security at that time) and they did not alert the State Department, who had the largest active list of terrorist suspects. As far as I can tell, they didn’t share this information with anyone. Furthermore, one would figure that the CIA, after finding out that they missed out on this once-in-a-lifetime terrorist summit, would have gotten some agents over to Kuala Lumpur to watch the condominium where the meetings had taken place. Had they done so, they would’ve found Zacharias Moussaoui, who was arrested prior to the 9/11 attacks and was thought to be the 20th hijacker.

In late January of 2000, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar turn up in Los Angeles. More on this later.

We have been told that a lot of the errors that occurred before 9/11 have been fixed. We have been told that there is increased communication between our security agencies. So, with 9/11 looming, I truly hope that they have fixed these things.

Check out NYT’s special section on 9/11. Very nice.

By |2011-09-08T23:53:54-04:00September 8th, 2011|9-11, Al Qaeda, Bush Administration, Terrorism|Comments Off on 9/11 – FBI and CIA fumble and bumble

Thursday Evening News Roundup

  • One thing you can say about the media is that they will always find something to go bonkers about. They have completely forgotten about the earthquake in Virginia and are now focused on the hurricane that is projected to hit North Carolina sometime on Friday. They are also in a tizzy over Steve Jobs’ resignation. It is clear that Apple Computers is not to be the same company without Steve Jobs. He was the one that had the drive, the determination and the vision to create the products that we now associate with Apple Computers. In my opinion, his greatness was in creating a user interface that was beautiful to look at and easy to use.


  • Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill in the Senate to strengthen Social Security. We need more of this.
  • One of the things that is great about writing your own memoir is that you can say whatever it is you want to say. I know that everybody’s been on the edge of their seat waiting on former Vice President Dick Cheney to write his memoir. Well, the wait is over. By the way, how is he staying out of jail?
  • The CIA is editing and re-editing a new book on 9/11. The FBI’s is written by a former FBI agent, an Arab-speaking counterterrorism agent. Ali Soufan should be a name well known to those who have followed the events of 9/11 very closely. He testified in Congress about the torture techniques that were used by the CIA. He stated, without hesitation, that they were unnecessary and counterproductive. If the CIA does not edit the book to death, I’m looking forward to the publication.
  • J.P. Morgan has been fined. They basically broke US sanctions with regards to Iran, Cuba and Sudan. The fine was only $88 million.
  • Fox News shuts down Karl Rove when he begins to describe Sarah Palin as thin-skinned.  I wonder what that’s all about.
  • Robert Reich is calling for a protest on Labor Day. Marches instead of parades. I’m down with that.
  • There’s a growing dissatisfaction against companies who seem to be discriminating against unemployed workers. Please follow the link. This is important.
  • The Bush tax cuts are still contributing significantly to our debt. The CBO has the latest numbers.
  • Mark Thoma tackles the question concerning why the Fed is hesitant to do more to help our economy.


By |2011-08-25T22:04:13-04:00August 25th, 2011|Bush Administration, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Senate|Comments Off on Thursday Evening News Roundup

Austerity, my foot

When my father was really disgusted with something, his favorite phrase was to say whatever that was bothering him and then add “my foot” to it. Currently there’s a trend in Washington and in the lapdog media to say that we need austerity measures. A lot of this comes from the problems that are going on in Europe, where Greece is getting bailed out for the second time. As I mentioned earlier today, we are Greece.

There are several good articles which discuss some of our economic doldrums. First we have Paul Krugman. His input is always valuable and insightful.

I’m not the only one making this point, but when you hear Republicans saying that what we need to do to create jobs is slash government spending and cut government payrolls, that’s exactly what has been happening for the past year, as the Obama stimulus has faded out.

It is clear to me that these austerity measures aren’t working.

Matthew Yglesias from TP has a different look at this issue.

Here’s another look at the fates of the public and private sectors during the recession. Since the overall scale of private sector employment is much larger than the government sector (and rightly so), it’s difficult to get a chart that shows anything if you look at the raw numbers. So instead, this lines indexes both sectors to where they were in January 2009 when Obama took over:

To me, Republicans are simply reciting something they’ve recited for over 60 years. They hate government. They want to shrink government at all costs. The recession is a good excuse. They sold this bag of goods to the public, but, in reality, government is the problem. Let’s break down the numbers a little better. Let’s look at the number of government employees since the end of WWII.

It really doesn’t look like we’ve had significant growth in the federal government since the mid-1960s. Let’s look at the shape of the curve. There’s no significant uptick. The curve is basically flat. Now, let’s compare this to the population growth of the United States since 1970.

So, as we can see, our population has significantly increased over the last several decades yet the size of our federal government has remained relatively stagnant. Let’s drill down a little bit more on the size of our government, because this is exactly what Republicans have been harping on for years.

The number of federal workers actually increased during the Reagan administration and the Bush administration. Let me say that again. The number of federal workers increased during the Reagan years. Yet, we’ve been told time and time again how Ronald Reagan shrank the size of government. This is a lie. As a matter fact, this data clearly shows that Bill Clinton shrank the size of government significantly during his administration. Look at the size of government under George W. Bush. It did not shrink in size. We hired more government employees under his reign.

So, the take-home lesson from these graphs is twofold. First, we have been shrinking the size of government and that has not helped our economy get started. As a matter fact, we have more people unemployed because of it. Secondly, Republican administrations have not shrunk the size of government like they told us.

By |2011-07-08T17:35:50-04:00July 8th, 2011|Bush Administration, Domestic Issues, Economy, Party Politics|Comments Off on Austerity, my foot
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