MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Louis Freeh, the FBI, 9-11, the Matrix and the US Virtual Middle East
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh is due to testify today in the US 9-11 hearings. What is more significant than what they will be asking him, is what they won't be asking him, and what he won't say Freeh, along with thousands of officials and media people, both US and Middle Eastern, is part of the crew that is working all the time to create the virtual Middle East Matrix that Americans think exists - or rather doesn't exist. The hearings are part of the same mechanism.
US pundits are quite upset over what President Bush knew and didn't know and why no action was taken against the specific threat of Bin Laden which was supposedly so obvious, and what exactly should have been done about the famous memo of April 6 (for example, see - here ). Well, it wasn't so obvious, and the nature of the threat is still not understood.
Let's be honest. Before 1998, you probably never have heard of Al-Qaeda at all, and possibly you never heard of Osama Bin Laden. Unless you were a student of Middle Eastern affairs, you never heard of Sayid Qutb and the ideological basis of Islamism and hatred of the West, though of course you knew about the Ayatollah Khomeini and the 1993 attack on the Twin Towers. Isn't that curious? Al-Qaida had already perpetrated several attacks against the US and western interests, including the first explosion in the World Trade Center and a less publicized 1992 attack on US military personnel in Yemen. Yet most people in the United States had never heard of them. You didn't know, because nobody told you. Evidently, the option initially chosen by the US government for dealing with these threats was to ignore them in public, and more or less to wall the whole Islamist problem out of the American consciousness by ignoring it, while trying to track it and fight it secretly.
By 1998, in fact, the FBI and CIA had known about Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden for quite some time. In January 1996, they had set up "Station Alex," a virtual intelligence station that was apparently an information clearinghouse. This belies the notion that interagency cooperation was nonexistent, though it may not have been perfect. 18 months later they had found Al-Qaeda cells in 56 countries according to Richard Clarke. Cofer Black, CIA counterterrorism director, testified that they had been following Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden since 1991.
You may therefore be amazed to learn, that in his testimony of January 1998, Louis Freeh, then Director of the FBI, testifying to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about terrorist threats, listed all the threats he could think of, but neither Al-Qaida nor Osama Bin Laden were among them!
Nor was CIA Director George Tenet any more forthcoming in his 1998 Senate testimony, which discussed WMD and terror threats, but said not a word about Osama Bin Ladin or Al-Qaida. So, we cannot say that there was lack of coordination between the FBI and the CIA. They both told the same story, but it was the wrong story. They had the facts, but the facts were withheld, at least in public testimony, from the American people.
By Septmber 1998, things had changed a bit. Al-Qaeda had bombed US embassies in Africa. Even Freeh could not ignore Osama bin Laden. In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Director of the FBI said,
Osama bin Laden was portrayed as a "rogue" and a loner. There was no hint of any network associated with bin Laden, or of an ideology that had tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of followers, though Freeh certainly had to have known about them. There was no hint that Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had issued several Fatwas calling for the destruction of the United States. This information was not a secret, since the Fatwas appeared in the European Arabic press, and since the formation of his Islamic Front for the struggle against the Jews and the Crusaders was also reported But Freeh didn't talk about that either, and you didn't hear about it until you really had your ears to the ground, did you?
Quite curiously, in his subsequent testimony to the 9-11 commission in October 2002, Freeh never mentioned these bizarre omissions, nor, apparently, was he questioned about them. He won't be questioned about them now either, though obviously he wasn't telling the truth then, possibly because he was told not to tell the truth. Since by that time it is certain that Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden must have known that they had attracted the attention of the CIA and FBI, there was no possible security reason for keeping this information from the American people.
In his speech after the retaliation for bombing of the US embassies in Africa, President Clinton did speak of "the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Ladin,'' but he didn't say a word about Islamism or Al-Qaeda. This represented a new view of the virtual Middle East. The problem was no longer blacked out entirely, but it was reduced to a single villain. It was a distorted reality, closer to the truth, but bizarre. Retrospectively, the picture that I got then seemed unbelievable. I remember thinking that it was like a comic strip come to life. Here was Lex Lothar, holed up in a cave somewhere in a remote area of Afghanistan, threatening Truth, Justice, Fair Play and the American Way. In this scenario, Osama bin Laden, a millionaire, had a network of hirelings, and he was intent on using some arcane weaponry to gain control of the precious Kryptonite mineral locked in the sands of Saudi Arabia. In keeping with this new strategy, Clinton had asked for over $2 Billion in a special appropriation to combat use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists. Both the Clinton administration and the Bush adminstriation were obsessed with the idea that terrorists would use ricin or anthrax or some other sophisticated terror weapon - again straight out of the comic books. This obsession cannot possibly be based on any objective review of the facts. Every single attack by Al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists, up to and including the attacks of 9-11, was done with quite ordinary explosives, and they had shown even in 1993, that the simplest bomb made of home-made explosives could have a devastating effect in the Twin Towers explosion. Nonetheless, almost nothing at all was done about the potential threat from conventional weapons. By January 1999, CIA Director George Tenet was willing to admit that Osama Bin Ladin existed and was dangerous:
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Replies: 3 comments
Republicans? You and Senator/Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry are right, Isseroff, the problem is with those damned Republicans. The Democrats are the ones who've got things right! Example: Iraq. Republicans really should push to involve--ahem, re-involve--the United Nations more, shouldn't they? After all, they (the UN) didn't pack up and run like little girls when their headquarters in Iraq were bombed, did they? (And were you around when the whole Oil-for-Food scandal came out of hiding? For those of you who don't know, we're talking senior UN officials of France, Germany, and Russia... forgive me if I'm forgetting anybody... two of which [France and Russia] have veto power in things like, oh, I don't know, going to war with Iraq, accepting billions of dollars in bribes from Saddam. It's a wonder why they were the three UN member countries most opposed to holding Saddam Hussein accountable to UN Resolution 1441!) Furthermore, Saddam did NOT fail to mention in his 11,800-page weapons disclosure to the UN the hundreds of missiles which they continued to produce into early 2003 which exceed the UN-imposed restriction of a range of 150 km by nine HUNDRED kilometers, did he? That's not nearly a large enough range to strike, Israel, Saddam's self-professed No. 1 Target, is it? Furthermore, you're also right about those damn' Republicans being responsible for under-funding of Al-Hurra. Their President (George W. Bush) isn't the one responsible for its existence in the first place, is he? And finding Osama bin Laden is a worthless pursuit, too. The ideology of al-Qaeda would still be there in his absence, so might as well give up on that. (This happens to be the dividing point between you and Kerry, however.) Anyway, so many other parts of what you said I liked, and so many other parts of what you said I could just as easily pick apart (like invading Afghanistan, the real, not potential, threat of terrorists including Osama bin Laden and members of his organization or related organizations using nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, the fact that Saddam did have WMDs as late as early 2003, the fact that American universities in Arab/Muslim states isn't going to make a difference, as evident in the fact that many of the world's leading Muslim terrorists were educated in American universities on American soil, including Osama bin Laden himself, the direct connection between Saddam Hussein, his regime, and al-Qaeda, etc.)
PS - Good luck in your attempt to smear Republicans.
Posted by Patrick Markham @ 04/18/2004 10:39 PM CST
Patrick Markham's comments seem to be a great example of the criticism made by Ami Isseroff. Americans are way too busy fighting with each other to fight terrorism effectively.
On the other hand, while I found Isseroff's comments very interesting criticisms, I found them to be lacking in terms of suggestions about what actions really can be taken to deal with the problems.
Posted by N. F. Smith @ 04/22/2004 12:41 AM CST
you are dumb
Posted by andrew @ 05/14/2004 04:39 AM CST
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