'I Saw Papers That Show US Knew al-Qa'ida Would Attack Cities With Airplanes'
Whistleblower (Sibel Edmonds) the White House wants to silence speaks to The Independent
by Andrew Buncombe in Washington
A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.
She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".
Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".
She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily."
She added: "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used but not specifically about how they would be used and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities with skyscrapers."
The issue what the administration knew and when is central to the investigation by the 9/11 Commission
She said said it was clear there was sufficient information during the spring and summer of 2001 to indicate terrorists were planning an attack. "Most of what I told the commission 90 per cent of it related to the investigations that I was involved in or just from working in the department. Two hundred translators side by side, you get to see and hear a lot of other things as well."
"President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," she said. There was, however, general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was just months away.
To try to refute Mr Clarke's accusations, Ms Rice said the administration did take steps to counter al-Qa'ida. But in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on 22 March, Ms Rice wrote: "Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack planes to try and free US-held terrorists."
Mrs Edmonds said that by using the word "we", Ms Rice told an "outrageous lie". She said: "Rice says 'we' not 'I'. That would include all people from the FBI, the CIA and DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency]. I am saying that is impossible."
9/11 Panel Members Weren’t Told of Meeting
Members of the Sept. 11 commission said today that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent Al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action.
Details of the previously undisclosed meeting on July 10, 2001, two months before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were first reported last week in a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward.
The final report from the Sept. 11 commission made no mention of the meeting nor did it suggest there had been such an encounter between Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice, now secretary of state.
Since release of the book, “State of Denial,” the White House and Ms. Rice have disputed major elements of Mr. Woodward’s account, with Ms. Rice insisting through spokesmen that there had been no such exchange in a private meeting with Mr. Tenet and that he had expressed none of the frustration attributed to him in Mr. Woodward’s book.
“It really didn’t match Secretary Rice’s recollection of the meeting at all,” said Dan Bartlett, counselor to President Bush, in an interview on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”
The disclosures took members of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission by surprise last week. Some questioned whether information about the July 10 meeting was intentionally withheld from the panel.
In interviews Saturday and today, commission members said they were never told about the meeting despite hours of public and private questioning with Ms. Rice, Mr. Tenet and Mr. Black, much of it focused specifically on how the White House had dealt with terrorist threats in the summer of 2001.
“None of this was shared with us in hours of private interviews, including interviews under oath, nor do we have any paper on this,” said Timothy J. Roemer, a Democratic member of the commission and a former House member from Indiana. “I’m deeply disturbed by this. I’m furious.”
Mr. Zelikow said that it was “entirely plausible” that a meeting occurred on July 10, during a period that summer in which intelligence agencies were being flooded with warnings of a terrorist attack against the United States or its allies.
“If we had heard something that drew our attention to this meeting, it would have been a huge thing,” he said. “Repeatedly Tenet and Black said they could not remember what had transpired in some of those meetings.”
Democratic lawmakers have seized on Mr. Woodward’s book in arguing that the Bush administration bungled the war in Iraq and paid too little attention to terrorist threats in the months before Sept. 11.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on “Face the Nation” on CBS that there had been “rumors” of such an encounter between Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice in the summer of 2001.
Mr. Woodward’s book, he said, raised the question of “why didn’t Condi Rice and George Tenet tell the 9/11 commission about that? They were obliged to do that and they didn’t.”
"flooded with warnings of a terrorist attack"?
my, my. the tenor of reporting has changed, huh?