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Morning Report 7/14/05Muffled No Longer, Rowley Runs for Congress


Speaking of suicide bombers, FBI agent did—before 9/11—but superiors in D.C. didn’t listen

Department of Justice IG report


Page one story: The first damn pages of the Justice Department’s long-delayed report on its pre–9-11 screwups hint at Coleen Rowley’s whistleblowing in the Moussaoui debacle, but it’s heavily redacted

You have to say that Coleen Rowley (left) has exquisite timing. The FBI agent who with her Minnesota crew had a good shot at stopping the 9/11 hijackers if her bosses in D.C. hadn’t overruled her, announced only a few days ago that she is running for Congress.

Who better to go to D.C. now that Western countries are on red alert for suicide bombers in their midst?

Of course, it’s typical in these daze of public bluster and official secrecy that the noted whistleblower’s best campaign document is one that has been blacked out and censored by the Bush regime.

Rowley, a lawyer retired from the FBI, has a history of straight-line GOP voting, but she’s running as a Democrat in Minnesota’s Second District, a House seat currently held by Republican John Kline. Her July 6 official announcement speech focused on ethics in government and “effective national security.”

She has an uphill run in a conservative district, as Minnesota Public Radio’s Mark Zdechlik notes.

But Rowley can back up her talk. In August 2001, INS agents stumbled upon Zacarias Moussaoui and picked him up. Suspicious FBI agents in Minnesota asked headquarters in Washington for permission to get a search warrant to scope out him and his computer. As the Wikipedia entry on Moussaoui notes:

Other materials he had when he was arrested included two knives, 747 flight manuals, a flight simulator computer program, fighting gloves and shin guards, and a computer disk with information about crop dusting.

Rowley, counsel in the Minneapolis FBI office, was rebuffed in her attempt to probe deeper. Too bad. Turns out he was one of the 9/11 hijackers but he’d basically messed up and got left behind.

In 2002, while, as it also turns out, the Bush regime was plotting to divert its hunt for Osama bin Laden by spending its time figuring out how to cover its ass for pre-9-11 screwups so it could con the country into supporting an invasion of Iraq, Rowley blew the whistle on her FBI superiors in Washington.

The Justice Department’s delayed report on its activities before 9/11 was finally released last month—it carries a date of November 2004—and as an AP story noted, it’s devastating:

In the weeks and months before Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI had some clues, but didn’t see them. It had a lead from one of its own agents, but didn’t follow it.

A sobering inside look at pre-Sept. 11 intelligence operations by the Justice Department’s inspector general chronicles—in some instances in hour-to-hour detail—how the FBI missed at least five opportunities to uncover vital information that might have led agents to the hijackers.

“The way the FBI handled these matters was a significant failure that hindered the FBI’s chances of being able to detect and prevent the Sept. 11 attacks,” Inspector General Glenn Fine said in a newly released report Thursday [June 9].

Think how devastating it would have been in November 2004. And this is an internal report, mind you. Coleen Rowley made the report’s first page:

One of the key questions arising after the attacks was what information the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) knew before September 11 that was potentially related to the terrorist attacks. On May 21, 2002, Coleen Rowley, the Chief Division Counsel in the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office, wrote a 13-page letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller in which she raised concerns about how the FBI had handled certain information in its possession before the attacks—

Oops. But too bad if you want to learn more. The rest of that intro (see top photo) was redacted by regime officials, because it concerns Moussaoui. The report’s entire chapter on Moussaoui is also blacked out—yes, still blacked out even though Moussaoui finally pled guilty last April.

To refresh your memory, read Rowley’s May 21, 2002, memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller; a redacted (of course) version was posted by Time. In it, Rowley told Mueller:

The issues are fundamentally ones of INTEGRITY and go to the heart of the FBI’s law enforcement mission and mandate.

There’s a reason she capitalized the word integrity. She basically accused Mueller and other HQ jerkoffs, who include Marion “Spike” Bowman, of not only screwing up before 9/11 but then covering their asses afterwards by misrepresenting what the Minneapolis agents had done. Here’s what happened, excerpted from her letter:

The Minneapolis agents who responded to the call about Moussaoui’s flight training identified him as a terrorist threat from a very early point. The decision to take him into custody on August 15, 2001, on the INS “overstay” charge was a deliberate one to counter that threat and was based on the agents’ reasonable suspicions.

Rowley noted that Moussaoui could be held because he had overstayed his visa and termed that “fortuitous”:

It allowed for him to be taken into immediate custody and prevented him receiving any more flight training, it was certainly not something the INS coincidentally undertook of their own volition. I base this on the conversation I had when the agents called me at home late on the evening Moussaoui was taken into custody to confer and ask for legal advice about their next course of action. The INS agent was assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and was therefore working in tandem with FBI agents.

The FBI agents weren’t lying down on the job. They wanted to get a criminal warrant, but they needed HQ’s OK. Info from French investigators piqued the interest in Moussaoui, but HQ wouldn’t listen:

FBIHQ personnel disputed with the Minneapolis agents the existence of probable cause to believe that a criminal violation had occurred/was occurring.

Now bear with me while I quote a lengthy passage from her letter. It’s important because, you see, after 9/11, FBIHQ OK’d a search warrant, of course. Here’s Rowley, talking about the Minneapolis office’s attempt to investigate before 9/11:

The two possible criminal violations initially identified by Minneapolis Agents were violations of Title 18 United States Code Section 2332b (Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, which, notably, includes “creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person by destroying or damaging any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States or by attempting or conspiring to destroy or damage any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States”) and Section 32 (Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities).

It is important to note that the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th was based on probable cause of a violation of Section 32.1 Notably also, the actual search warrant obtained on September 11th did not include the French intelligence information. Therefore, the only main difference between the information being submitted to FBIHQ from an early date which HQ personnel continued to deem insufficient and the actual criminal search warrant which a federal district judge signed and approved on September 11th, was the fact that, by the time the actual warrant was obtained, suspected terrorists were known to have hijacked planes which they then deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

To say then, as has been iterated numerous times, that probable cause did not exist until after the disastrous event occurred, is really to acknowledge that the missing piece of probable cause was only the FBI’s (FBIHQ’s) failure to appreciate that such an event could occur. The probable cause did not otherwise improve or change.

This all came out in 2002, so it’s astonishing that Congress didn’t immediately launch a thorough investigation. It’s even more incredible that Congress trusted the Bush regime’s word that the best way to fight terror was to invade Iraq. And then it’s really amazing that Bush got a second term.

Perhaps the most ludicrous moment of the whole Rowley/Moussaoui thing involves Spike Bowman and came on January 10, 2003. As the brilliant 9-11 Timeline on captures that day eight months after Rowley’s letter to Mueller:

January 10, 2003: FBI Director Mueller personally awards Marion (Spike) Bowman with a presidential citation and cash bonus of approximately 25 percent of his salary. [Salon, 3/3/03] Bowman, head of the FBI’s National Security Law Unit and the person who refused to seek a special warrant for a search of Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings before the 9/11 attacks, is among nine recipients of bureau awards for “exceptional performance.” The award comes shortly after a 9/11 Congressional inquiry report saying Bowman’s unit gave Minneapolis FBI agents “inexcusably confused and inaccurate information” that was “patently false.” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 12/22/02]

Actually, none of Congress’s inaction is surprising. Our Congress is so gerrymandered that it’s about as (small-D) democratic as the old Politburo. As I pointed out last September, more than 90 percent of Americans live in congressional districts that are essentially one-party monopolies.

In 1992, there were 84 competitive House races; in 2000, there were only 42. How many will there be in 2006? The seat Rowley is up for was not one of them in 2002 or 2004.

Minnesota’s Second District is a pretty grim place for Democrats. In 2002, after the district lines were redrawn, a veteran Democrat, Bill Luther, known as the biggest fundraising elected pol in the state, got thrown into the Second, and he wound up losing to Kline, whom the Minneapolis-St. Paul City Pages calls a “Bush lapdog.” And the Democrats’ 2004 candidate, Teresa Daly, didn’t come close to Kline.

Rowley’s big thing at the start of her campaign is an emphasis on “ethical decision-making.” That probably won’t wow a district’s voters who overwhelmingly re-elected Bush.

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