Tuesday, March 21, 2006

FBI Agent Warned Superiors More Than 70 Times About Moussaoui

A heretofore unknown aspect of the U.S. security blunders surrounding 9-11 emerged yesterday in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.

An FBI agent who interrogated Zacarias Moussaoui before Sept. 11, 2001, warned his supervisors more than 70 times that Moussaoui was a terrorist and spelled out his suspicions that the al-Qaeda operative was plotting to hijack an airplane, according to federal court testimony yesterday.

Agent Harry Samit told jurors at Moussaoui's death penalty trial that his efforts to secure a warrant to search Moussaoui's belongings were frustrated at every turn by FBI officials he accused of "criminal negligence."...

Samit's testimony added striking detail to the voluminous public record on the FBI's bungling of the Moussaoui case. It also could help Moussaoui's defense. Samit is a prosecution witness who had earlier backed the government's central theory of the case: that the FBI would have raised "alarm bells" and could have stopped the Sept. 11 attacks if Moussaoui had not lied to agents. But under cross-examination by the defense yesterday, Samit said that he did raise those alarms -- repeatedly -- but that his bosses impeded his efforts.

Defense attorney Edward B. MacMahon Jr. zeroed in on increasingly urgent warnings Samit issued to his FBI supervisors after he interviewed Moussaoui at a Minnesota jail in mid-August 2001. Moussaoui had raised Samit's suspicions because he was training on a 747 simulator with limited flying experience and could not explain his foreign sources of income.

By Aug. 18, 2001, Samit was telling FBI headquarters that he believed Moussaoui intended to hijack a plane "for the purpose of seizing control of the aircraft." A few days later, he learned from FBI agents in France that Moussaoui had been a recruiter for a Muslim group in Chechnya linked to Osama bin Laden.

But when Samit tried to use the French intelligence in his draft application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to search Moussaoui's belongings, he said, Maltbie edited out the connection with bin Laden because it did not show that a foreign government was involved.

"How are you supposed to establish a connection with a foreign power if it's deleted from the document?" MacMahon asked.

"Well, sir, you can't," Samit replied.

Samit said he also sent an e-mail to the FBI's bin Laden unit but did not receive a response before Sept. 11, 2001...

Samit acknowledged that he told the Justice Department's inspector general's office that his supervisors engaged in "criminal negligence" and were trying to "run out the clock" because they wanted to deport Moussaoui rather than prosecute him.

Most portions of the inspector general's report dealing with Moussaoui have never been made public.

"You thought a terrorist attack was coming, and you were being obstructed, right?" MacMahon asked.

"Yes, sir," Samit answered.

One has to wonder why the supervisors were so opposed to investigating Moussaoui. The story about simply wishing to deport him does not fly.

Especially in light of the editing of the French intelligence information out of the FISA affidavit.

And all the other suspicious government actions surrounding the events of that day.


Post a Comment

<< Home