This is a story that should get more interest. The Miami Herald is a far Left outlet, so they are not the sort to engage in right-wing conspiracy. Of course, organized corruption in the FBI is not really a Left or Right thing inside official politics. Both sides go out of their way to praise the FBI as the paragons of virtue, despite the fact their entire history is one of corruption and incompetence. Bungling the 9/11 stuff, but being praised for it is par for the course. Anyway, this seems like a big deal.
It was Halloween night, 2001. The horrors of 9/11 were still fresh on the the minds of Americans.
At a time when everyone was on edge, the sight of a man disposing documents in a dumpster behind a Bradenton storage facility aroused suspicion. Summoned to the scene, Manatee County sheriff’s deputies confronted the man, who had a Tunisian passport.
According to FBI records, authorities searched the dumpster and found “a self-printed manual on terrorism and Jihad, a map of the inside of an unnamed airport, a rudimentary last will and testament, a weight-to-fuel ratio calculation for a Cessna 172 aircraft, flight training information from the Flight Training Center in Venice [Fla.] and printed maps of Publix shopping centers in Tampa Bay.”
The Flight Training Center is where 9/11 hijack pilot Ziad Jarrah, who was at the controls of United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed in Shanksville, Pa., took flying lessons.
This intriguing tale and at least one other are contained in a batch of partially redacted documents released this past week as part of ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation by the online news site BrowardBulldog.org. The suit, filed in 2012, seeks the FBI’s files from a once-secret investigation into a family of Sarasota Saudis who left the country abruptly about two weeks before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, leaving behind clothing, jewelry and cars.
The main figures in the family were Abdulaziz al-Hijji, his wife, Anoud, and her father, Esam Ghazzawi, an advisor to a Saudi prince.
The report of the Bradenton incident is in some way linked to the al-Hijjis’ saga, although precisely how is unclear. The link might be spelled out in one of the many redacted passages. Nor is it clear in the unredacted portions who the man was or whether he was detained. An FBI letter accompanying the documents says the redactions have to do with national security and other exclusions.
The documents — the fourth batch released in response to the Broward Bulldog lawsuit — were located via court-ordered text searches using the names of the al-Hijjis and Ghazzawi. U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch in Fort Lauderdale is currently reviewing more than 80,000 pages of 9/11 records.
“This release suggests that the FBI has covered up information that is vitally important to public safety,” said Miami attorney Thomas Julin, who represents BrowardBulldog.org. “It’s startling that after initially denying they had any documents they continue to find new documents as the weeks and months roll by. Each new batch suggests there are many, many more documents.”
“There needs to be a full-scale explanation of what’s going on here,” Julin said.
The thing about lies and cover-ups is there is usually something lurking behind the lies and cover-ups that is worse than the lies and cover-ups. What’s strange about this stuff is we seem to know the general outlines of that thing in the shadows. Official Washington turned a blind eye to a lot of stuff, including Saudi funding of terrorism. Immediately after 9/11, there was a scramble to cover that reality up. Lying about this stuff now seems to make little sense.
A second FBI document released last week, dated Feb. 2, 2012, is similarly tantalizing — and similarly murky.
On that day, according to the document, FBI offices in Tampa and Charlotte, N.C., received information from Washington stamped “secret” stating that a “person of interest” in the FBI’s massive 9/11 investigation had returned to the United States.
The person, whose name is redacted, was reported to be “traveling to Texas and LA for business/tourism.” The person apparently told authorities upon entering the country that he could be reached in Charlotte. He provided a telephone number “associated with furniture manufacturers in North Carolina,” the report states.
Details about that were blanked out. But the report also states, “Tampa is notified that a person of interest to Tampa regarding the PENTTBOMB investigation has a valid visa for re-entry into the U.S.” PENTTBOMB is the FBI’s code name for its 9/11 investigation.
Whether this person was ever detained, interviewed or allowed to go about his/her business is unclear in the unredacted passages.
In all, the FBI released 11 pages. They contain statements reiterating that the al-Hijjis had departed the United States in haste shortly before 9/11 and that “further investigation” had “revealed many connections” between them and persons associated with “attacks on 9/11/2001.”
Those statements flatly contradict the FBI’s public statements that agents found no connection between the al-Hijjis and the 9/11 plot.
Yet they dovetail with the account of a counterintelligence source who has said investigators in 2001 found evidence — phone records and photographs of license plates snapped at the entrance to the al-Hijjis’ Sarasota-area neighborhood — that showed Mohamed Atta, other hijackers and former Broward resident and current al-Qaeda fugitive Adnan Shukrijumah had visited the al-Hijji home.
None of that information, or even the fact that an investigation in Sarasota took place, was disclosed by the FBI to Congress’ Joint Inquiry into the attacks or to the 9/11 Commission, according to former Florida Sen. Bob Graham. Graham co-chaired the joint inquiry.
Maybe this is all there is to it. The FBI lies to Congress a lot. It is one of the things everyone knows and no one really says much about. It goes back to Hoover. Read enough about Watergate and you realize that the FBI and to a lesser extent the CIA operate outside the control of the elected government. They are part of the permanent state. The FBI covered this stuff up because they did not want to both own up to being asleep at the switch and then lying about it.