The following article by Oliver Schrom is over a year old, but it certainly
has relevance in light of the revelations about the U.S. government's pre-9/11
perception of the threat posed by Al Qaeda. Schrom's piece is a chronology of
failure our government's failure to carry out its only legitimate function,
which is protecting America from foreign threats and invasion, and is so structured,
with important dates highlighted. Readers will be particularly interested in
the entry dated Aug. 6, 2001 the date of the recently released Presidential
Daily Briefing (PDB) which notes:
"Instead of the usual two or three pages, today's briefing paper consists
of eleven and a half printed page and carries the title 'Bin Laden Determined
to Strike in U.S.'"
The version released by the White House is barely a page and a half long.
Is the White House holding back? That question, I believe, can safely be modified
to read: What is the White House holding back?
In any case, read Schrom's piece: it couldn't be more timely.
by Oliver Schröm
translated from Die Zeit
October 2, 2002
U.S. investigators knew that terror attacks were being planned, but let
the suspects roam free. There are increasing signs that the CIA and FBI could
have prevented the attack on America.
Washington, D.C. September 11, 2001 A few hours earlier 19 terrorists
had hijacked four airplanes and flown two of them into the towers of the World
Trade Center. The third crashed into the Pentagon and the fourth smashed into
a field in Pennsylvania. Firemen were at the crash sites searching for survivors
and President George W Bush already announced who was behind the attacks: Osama
Really? The voices were loud, the proof was wanting. Secretary of State Colin
Powell announced that he would present documents very soon. Finally Powell let
British Prime Minister Tony Blair present the evidence. The 20-page document
that Blair published was an agglomeration of evidence and speculation that would
prove that only bin Laden's terror organization was capable of planning and
implementing such an act of terror. According to the document: "There is evidence
of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of bin Laden and his associates
that is too sensitive to release.”
Indeed. The evidence shows not only that two of the hijackers had close contact
with the Al Qaeda terror organization. But it in fact also illustrates the failure
of the CIA, which learned that terror attacks were being planned 18 months before
September 11, yet didn't take any action against the terrorists.
In the meantime a congressional Joint Intelligence Committee is investigating
those events. Die Zeit has heard from eyewitnesses and examined the committee's
reports. The commission uncovers new details almost daily, slowly turning grim
hunches into certitude: The CIA could have prevented the September 11 attacks
if systematic errors hadn't been made.
Kuala Lumpur, January 5, 2000 The terrorist Tawfiq bin Atesh called
a few trusted followers to a meeting in the Malaysian capital. Bin Atesh, whose
nom de guerre is Khalid, is a close confidante of Osama bin Laden. Together
they fought the Red Army in Afghanistan and bin Atesh lost a leg. The one-legged
bin Atesh deliberately chose Kuala Lumpur as his meeting place. Malaysia had
established Islam as the state religion years earlier. Muslims can enter without
a visa. A Malaysian member of Al Qaeda owns an eight-story apartment building
on the edge of Kuala Lumpur. One of the apartments was regularly used as a safe
house by the terror organization. The one-legged man invited his accomplices
there to plan an attack.
The CIA learned of the correct time and place for the meeting and asked the
Malaysian Secret Service to place it under surveillance. As the terrorists left
the apartment, the Malaysian police clicked away with their cameras. There was
enough material for a whole photo series. The terrorists strolled around town
like regular tourists. They casually searched out an Internet cafe and spent
many hours in front of the computers, always surreptitiously watched by an observation
team. Along with the one-legged man the Malaysian police also photographed Ramzi
Mohammed Binalshibh. The then 27-year-old Yemeni had lived in Germany since
1995. He was the logistics man for the Hamburg Al Qaeda cell, whose members
would murder 3,000 people only 18 months later.
Binalshibh came to the meeting directly from Germany. But for still unexplained
reasons the CIA never told their German counterparts that the logistics man
was in Malaysia. He was able to return to Germany unchallenged and started to
organize the attacks with the other members of his Hamburg cell. There are many
indications that the decisive plans for the attacks on the US were formed in
Malaysia. Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar also took part in that meeting.
They were later among the 19 hijackers.
Al-Midhar was well known to the CIA. US intelligence knew his name, passport
number and other personal details long before his appearance in Malaysia. The
CIA also knew that Al-Midhar had long had a Multiple Entry Visa to the US, which
he obtained at the US consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. It was valid until
April 6, 2000.
Al Midhar unknowingly brought the CIA with him to Malaysia. The Saudi citizen
and his clan had long been in the agency's sights. Al-Midhar's father-in-law
owned an apartment in the Yemeni capital San'a which served as an Al Qaeda safehouse.
The apartment was an important node in the terror organization's network. Information
about operations from around the world converged there. And therefore investigators
were in the picture.
The FBI had landed on this apartment as early as the end of August 1998. At
the time they were tracking down the perpetrators of the bombings of the US
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Suicide commandos blew up the US government
buildings almost simultaneously, killing 223 people and injuring 5,000. Shortly
after the attacks, a fax claiming credit was sent to London. The FBI managed
to trace its origin to Baku, in Azerbaijan. From there the trail led directly
to Al-Midhar's father-in-law's apartment in Yemen. The FBI successfully placed
the house and telephone under surveillance. A member of the suicide squad called
Al-Midhar's father-in-law from Kenya and said "Tell them that I haven't started
the journey". The attacker lost his courage seconds before the attack and jumped
out of the car which contained the bomb. Shortly thereafter the FBI agents recorded
another call. This time it was from a satellite telephone assigned to Osama
bin Laden. Since then the CIA had also been monitoring Al Midhar's brother-in-law's
telephone. And so the agency learned of the planned meeting in Malaysia a month
Los Angeles, January 15, 2000 After the rendezvous with the one-legged
bin-Atesh, al-Midhar and al-Hazmi left Kuala Lumpur separately. Al-Midhar headed
toward Los Angeles with a stop in Bangkok. His accomplice traveled there by
way of Hong Kong. The security precautions and controls at LAX at the time were
as strict as never before. A month earlier an Algerian Al Qaeda member was arrested
at the US-Canadian border with 50 kilos of explosives in the trunk of his car.
The Algerian was on his way to Los Angeles where he intended to blow up the
airport on New Year's Eve.
But al-Midhar and al-Hazmi presumably knew about none of that, as they gave
their information to the immigration control. Both had US visas, in their own
names, which the CIA were familiar with. The immigration officers didn't give
them any trouble and the computer terminals gave no indication that the two
Saudi citizens were involved with terrorists. Because for still inexplicable
reasons neither the CIA nor the FBI informed either the INS or the State Department
that the two were not innocent students. This may well be the most fateful error
in a whole chain of failures and mishaps that ultimately led the American security
agencies to give a free pass to the eventual September 11 attackers.
Al-Midhar and al-Hazmi presumably already had a clear assignment when they
arrived in Los Angeles. Only the place, time and exact game plan for the attacks
were still unclear. They both stayed briefly in Los Angeles and went on to San
Diego where they rented an apartment. At the Parkwood Apartments, a 175 unit
complex, they rented number 127. Al-Hazmi signed the lease. They apparently
weren't the least concerned about being discovered. There were no signs that
they tried to disguise their identities. Al-Hazmi got a telephone line and allowed
his address and number to appear in the local directory. He bought a 1988 blue
Toyota Corolla for $3,000 and registered the car in his own name.
In May 2000, four months after arriving in the US, Al-Hazmi and Al-Midhar called
on a San Diego flying school. The both took a six-hour theory class at the Sorbi
Flying Club. They didn't make a secret of the fact that they wanted to learn
how to fly Boeings as soon as possible. But first they had to start with small
Cessnas. The very first flight was a disaster. The terrorists were exceptionally
maladroit, they had no talent for flying planes. As al-Hazmi was preparing to
land under the instructor's guidance, al-Midhar panicked, and started praying
loudly."Nothing's going to come of this," said the instructor. He
refused to train them both.
Frankfurt, June 2000 The mission of the two terrorists appears to have
ended, even before it actually began. Al-Midhar traveled to Frankfurt in June
2000. What he was doing in Germany is unclear. He probably met with Binalshibh,
the logistics man for the Hamburg cell. Al-Midhar was able to enter the country
unobserved, because the CIA didn't tell its German counterparts about the terrorists.
Al-Midhar and Binalshibh were seen most recently in Malaysia, but they knew
each other long before the meeting in Asia. They were related. Binalshibh was
Al-Midhar's wife's cousin. Presumably al-Midhar told his in-law that the pilot
training didn't work out, and that he would have to find a replacement.
This presented the logistics man with a formidable problem, at least in the
short term. He registered by phone with a flight school in the States, but he
still wasn't going to become a pilot. On May 17, two weeks before al-Midhar's
arrival in Germany, the US Embassy told Binalshibh that he wasn't going to get
a visa. Other members of the Hamburg cell had better luck. Like Binalshibh,
they applied for their visas immediately after their return from Malaysia, and
inquired by phone or e-mail about the training programs at 31 American flight
Shortly after al-Midhar arrived in Germany, Mohammed Atta and two other members
of the Hamburg Al Qaeda cell went to the US and started their pilot training
in Florida. On September 11, 2001 Atta would fly the plane that sped into the
North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Al-Midhar also went back to the US. After it became clear that he and Al-Hazmi
weren't going to become pilots, his assignment was to coordinate the planning
for the attacks. But first he had to take care of his ability to stay in the
country. His visa was running out. On July 7, 2000 he went to see the INS. Shortly
before that CIA headquarters in Langley received yet another explicit notice
from its Malaysia station that the Al Qaeda terrorist al-Hazmi had already entered
the U.S. in January. But in Langley they stayed calm. Al-Hazmi wasn't designated
for investigation, and neither the FBI, the State Department, nor the INS were
informed. Consequently, nobody had any reason to be suspicious when al-Hazmi
applied to extend his visa, giving his address in San Diego. His wish was granted.
San Diego, September 2000 The neigbors in San Diego grew suspicious.
Al-Hazmi and Al-Midhar lived in the apartment complex for eight months and still
didn't have any furniture. They slept on the floor and regularly made calls
from phone booths even though they had a phone in their apartment. The two Saudis
apparently noticed the skeptical glances of their neighbors. They terminated
the lease and moved in with Abduss Attar Sheikh, a Muslim they met at the Mosque
in San Diego. This friend, a retired English teacher, rented them a room and
helped them open a bank account and get Internet access.
As it turned out, the retiree was also helping out the local FBI. He was providing
the police information on militant Muslims in San Diego. His contact officer
regularly visited him at home. Al-Midhar and al-Hazmi were in the house during
some of these visits. Sheikh quickly closed the living room door at such moments
so his boarders wouldn't find out about his activities as an informer. Neither
the informer nor his officer had any idea that the two young men were Al Qaeda
Al-Midhar moved out after six weeks. He told his host that he was returning
to his wife and children in Saudi Arabia. In fact he was involved in an act
of terrorism. On October 12, 2000 a suicide squad carried out an attack on the
naval ship USS Cole in Aden harbor. A dinghy packed with explosives rammed into
the port side of the ship. 17 US soldiers died, 38 were wounded. The CIA assumes
that al-Midhar took part in the attack.
Al-Hazmi remained in San Diego for the time being, still living with the FBI
informant. The latter never had any idea what was going on while the worst act
of terrorism in American history was being prepared in his house. Al-Hazmi would
sit at the computer and spend hours surfing the Internet. He told his landlord
he was looking for a wife, preferably a Mexican. The informer tried to teach
al-Hazmi a few Spanish phrases, like "Que pasa?"
At the end of December 2000 al-Hazmi also left the house in San Diego. He moved
in with his fellow countryman Hani Hanjur in Mesa, Arizona. Hanjur had been
living in the US since 1996 and earned his license at a flight school in Scottsdale.
After al-Hazmi and al-Midhar's flight training didn't work out, Hanjur would
now fill the role for the trained pilot.
But the pilot still needed some actual flying time. So he tried to take a few
lessons at a flight school in Phoenix. Despite the fact that he had been in
the States for several years, his English was so bad that the flight school
operator assumed that he couldn't have had a valid pilot's license. He assumed
the license certificate was a forgery and notified the FAA. But the suspected
license turned out to be genuine.
Washington, DC January 2001. Both the FBI and the CIA are tracking down
the perpetrators of the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. The CIA conclusively
determined that the one-legged bin Atesh was the mastermind of the attack. They
consulted the observation report from the meeting in Malaysia. It suggested
that the attack on the Cole was decided and planned in Kuala Lumpur. The other
participants at the meeting, among them al-Hazmi and al-Midhar, were now under
suspicion, at least implicated in the planning of the attack. Although the CIA
had enough information to know that al-Midhar possessed a valid visa and that
al-Hazmi still had to be in the USA, it didn't raise a red flag with the investigators,
and they didn't bother to notify the FBI. The CIA, as the foreign intelligence
agency, is forbidden by law from operating inside the US.
Pursuit of terrorists from bin Laden's network was the CIA's top priority."We
are at war [with Al Qaeda]," wrote CIA Director George Tenet in an internal
memo "I want no resources or people spared in this effort". In February 2001,
shortly after Bush's inauguration, the CIA Director, speaking to the Senate
Intelligence Committe, explicitly warned of further attacks by the terrorist
organization."Osama bin Laden and his global network of lieutenants and
associates remain the most immediate and serious threat to US national security".
And "As the United States has strengthened security around government buildings
and fixed military facilities, terrorists are seeking out 'softer' targets [to
guarantee the greatest losses]"
There was still a lot left to be organized. Al-Hazmi was constantly driving
around in his old Toyota. He didn't always obey the speed limit. On April 1,
2001 he was caught in a speed trap on I-40 in western Oklahoma. He was stopped
by the police and had to show his ID, license and registration. The officer
radioed in to see if there was anything on the driver. The police database had
nothing. Al-Hazmi got a ticket and kept driving. The fine for speeding was $138.
He paid it by mail.
New York, June 11, 2001. FBI agents from the New York bureau and from
headquarters in Washington met with representatives of the CIA to exchange information
and make progress in the USS Cole investigation. The CIA agents showed their
colleagues from the FBI the photos from Malaysia and finger the one-legged bin
Atesh as the mastermind behind the attack. They casually let slip the name of
Al-Midhar, who was in one of the pictures with bin Atesh. When the FBI asked
for more specific details, the CIA kept quiet. They didn't mention to the FBI
that Al-Midhar had a valid US visa and was probably in the US at that moment.
A year later one of the CIA agents told an investigating committee with tears
in his voice that they weren't authorized at the time to disclose this to the
Internally the CIA feared the worst. Its agents reported their analysis to
leading members of the adminstration."Based on a review of all-source reporting
over the last five months, we believe that UBL [Usama bin Laden] will launch
a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming
weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties
against US facilities or interests." A likely date of July 4, 2001 was
On July 4 al-Midhar returned to the US on Saudi Arabian Airlines flight 53
after an absence of several months. Shortly before that, while still in Saudi
Arabia, he extended his US visa until October 3, 2001. Although the CIA had
in the meantime implicated him in the attck on the Cole, he had no problems
entering the US. He presented his Saudi passport, which was in his own name,
and on his immigration form gave his local address as the Marriott Hotel in
New York. He subsequently made his way to Arizona to see al-Hazmi and others.
Phoenix, July 10, 2001. Kenneth Williams is an experienced policeman.
He has been working at the FBI counter-terrorism unit in Phoenix for eleven
years. Today Williams sent a multiple page report to his superiors at FBI headquarters
in Washington and to his counter-terrorism colleagues in New York who have been
experts on Islamic extremism since the bombing of the World Trade Center in
Williams has grown concerned over the last few months that there has been an
increase in the number of young Muslims from the Middle East undergoing pilot
training in Arizona. Williams counted a total of 10 individuals from Pakistan,
India, Kenya, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Some of them
have taken flight time, others are studying aircraft construction or international
aviation security. The FBI has questioned several of these students and heard
them making hostile statements about the United States. Williams noticed, moreover,
that these students were suspiciously well informed about American airport security
measures. In his report Williams concluded that these aviation students could
have been followers of Osama bin Laden. He thought it was plausible that terrorists
might want to become pilots so as to hijack passenger airliners.
The FBI agent recommended looking at all flight schools. His New York colleagues
deemed his arguments "speculative and not particularly significant". As it would
turn out in a few months, someone from one of the flight schools that Williams
was looking at was an acquaintance of the death pilot who crashed the hijacked
jet into the Pentagon.
Crawford, August 6, 2001. George W Bush is on vacation. He wanted to
spend the whole month at his ranch in Texas."The Presidential Daily Brief"
was part of his morning routine. In the PDB, as its called in CIA jargon, a
senior CIA official presents the President with a summary of the security situation.
On this morning the CIA Director personally briefs the President. Instead of
the usual two or three pages, today's briefing paper consists of eleven and
a half printed page and carries the title "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in
U.S.". The CIA chief argued that Al Qaeda was now also attempting to carry
out attacks inside the US, and there were probably already members of the terror
organization located in the US for some time. It's not clear whether or not
the CIA Director told the President about statements made by Al Qaeda members
who were already in custody. According to their statements, the terror organization
had long thought about hijacking airplanes in order to use them as missiles.
Minneapolis, August 15, 2001. One flight school in Minneapolis informed
the FBI that one if its students was interested in flying Boeings, although
he didn't even have a license for small Cessnas. The flight student was arrested
the next day, officially for immigration violations. He was a French citizen
of Moroccan origin named Zacharias Moussaoui. His letters and his laptop were
confiscated and immediately sent to FBI headquarters in Washington, where they
An FBI agent took up the case at the flight school. The 47-year-old Coleen
Rowley, a 21-year veteran of the FBI, got in contact with French authorities
and learned that Moussaoui was suspected in France of having ties to Islamic
extremists. She informed FBI headquarters and asked to have Moussaoui's laptop
examined closely. Her request was denied."We don't know he's a terrorist.
You don't have enough to show he's a terrorist". The investigator persisted,
asking permission to examine the laptop herself. Headquarters got irritated
and told her not to bring this subject up again. In fact, the Frenchman was
in close contact with the September 11 attackers. Evidence of this was found
on his laptop, which was, however, closely examined after September 11. One
clue led to Germany. Moussaoui received a money transfer from Binalshibh, the
logistics man of the Hamburg cell.
Rowley didn't know about any of this when she composed a memo to her superiors
at the end of August 2001. She wrote that the circumstances indicated that Moussaoui
was taking flying lessons solely for the purpose of flying into buildings, and
that he was probably planning to fly a plane into the World Trade Center.
Langley, August 23, 2001. The Israeli Mossad intelligence agency handed
its American counterpart a list of names of terrorists who were staying in the
US and were presumably planning to launch an attack in the foreseeable future.
According to documents obtained by Die ZEIT, Mossad agents in the US were in
all probability surveilling at least four of the 19 hijackers, among them al-Midhar.
The CIA now does what it should have done 18 months earlier. It informs the
State Dept., the FBI and the INS.
The names al-Midhar and al-Hazmi are promptly put on an investigation list,
as probable members of Al Qaeda. al-Midhar is expressly noted as a probable
accomplice in the USS Cole attack. The first acknowledgement arrives quickly.
The INS writes that according to its information, both men are currently in
Now both men are pursued vigorously. On his entry into the US al-Midhar gave
his address as the Marriott Hotel in New York. FBI agents visited all the chain's
hotels in the New York area, without success.
One of the FBI agents on the case called headquarters in Washington and asked
for reinforcements. He wanted to expand the investigation for al-Midhar. The
agent properly assessed the danger that al-Midhar posed. He had already been
working on the USS Cole investigation for months.
In this context he had met with his colleagues from the CIA once and al-Midhar's
name slipped out. Now that he reads this name in the investigation file, with
the note that al-Midhar was implicated in the Cole attack, the FBI agent became
angry with his CIA colleagues. They had previously withheld this detail from
But his anger increases when his own headquarters declines to give him additional
support. The attorneys at the FBI's National Security Law Unit made very clear
that the law prescribes a strict wall between intelligence and police investigations.
And the search for al-Midhar has now returned to being an intelligence matter."someday
someone will die and wall or not the public will not understand why we were
not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems'."
one frustrated FBI agent writes to his headquarters on August 29, 2001."Let's
hope the National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then,
especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [Usama bin Laden], is getting
the most protection."
Laurel, Maryland, August 25, 2001. Al-Midhar is staying in room 343
of the Valencia Motel in Laurel. He is not alone. With him are al-Hazmi, his
brother, the pilot and another terrorist. The five seldom left the room. Whenever
the maid knocked and wanted to make the beds, the terrorists opened the door
only a crack and took fresh hand towels."We thought they were gay, five
men in one room," a neighboring guest later said.
The timing and schedule for the attacks had been set. One after another they
bought their tickets. Twelve days remaining. Everything is going according to
Washington, DC, September 11, 2001. Early in the morning the five terrorists
drive to Dulles Airport. Police later seize the Toyota and find a receipt for
tuition at the Phoenix flight school, four diagrams of a Boeing 757 cockpit,
a carpet knife, a map of Washington and slips of paper with notes and phone
At 7:30 the terrorists check in. Investigators have been searching everywhere
for al-Hazmi and al-Midhar for the last 20 days. Despite that, the two pass
unhindered through security along with their accomplices. Both the tickets and
passports which they presented were in their own names. A few hours later the
hijacked planes started infernos in New York and Washington.
The CIA Director learned of this over breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington,
only a few meters from the White House. He said that all signs pointed to Osama
bin Laden. The President would have to be informed who was most likely behind
the attack. Tenet rose from the breakfast table and made a hasty good-bye.
Washington, DC, September 12, 2001. The large police investigation in
American history is underway. Thousands of FBI agents fan out across the country
and within days reconstruct the lives of the hijackers. It wasn't especially
difficult because in the US the terrorists conducted themselves as anything
but a secret conspiracy. Al-Hazmi had even called the police once after he was
assaulted. FBI Director Robert Mueller, who started his term only a few weeks
before the attacks, put it this way: "I can't say for sure that there wasn't
a possibility that we would have come across some leads that would have led
us to the hijackers."
CIA Director George Tenet, who has been in his position since the Clinton Administration,
told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he was proud to be able to say about
the CIA: The agency had nothing to be ashamed of. The attacks were "not the
result of the failure of attention and discipline and focus and consistent effort".
New York, October 23, 2001. It is clear that Hamburg was the "central
base" for the September 11 attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft said, accompanied
by German Interior Minister Otto Schily during a press conference in New York.
The investigation in Europe would therefore need to be intensified.
Minneapolis, May 21, 2002. When FBI agent Coleen Rowley could no longer
stand seeing the authorities covering up their failures, she sat at her computer
and wrote a 13 page letter to the FBI director enumerating all of the mistakes
and failures that she was aware of. She had warned insistently about the possibility
of attacks by Muslim militants back in August 2001."I have deep concerns,"
she wrote, "that a delicate and subtle shading/skewing of facts by you and others
at the highest levels of FBI management has occurred and is occurring."
The agent personally brings her file to Washington and hands two copies to the
Senate Intelligence Committee. Two weeks later a picture of her letter adorns the cover of Time Magazine under the
headline "The Bombshell Memo." The FBI gets pilloried.
Washington, DC, June 4, 2002. The FBI doesn't want to take all the blame
for what the CIA dragged it into. The CIA finally has to contend with its decisive
error in which it failed for 18 months to pass along its information about al-Hazmi
and al-Midhar. This information was leaked to Newsweek, which quotes
an unnamed FBI official as saying if the bureau had had more on the two it could
have tied all the 19 hijackers together in one plot. The spy agencies mud-wrestling
is now out in the open. Did the FBI and CIA make catastrophic errors? A joint
committee of the House and Senate would be dealing with this question.
Washington, DC, September 11, 2002. The joint committee has been working
for three months, but was torpedoed by the Bush Administration, as Richard C.
Shelby, vice chair of the committee, was now telling the New York Times. The
Administration refused to disclose what information the intelligence agencies
had given the President prior to the attacks. Shelby said that he was sure that
the committee's questioning had only "scratched the surface".
As further information about the mistakes and failures of the CIA and FBI made
it into the media, accusations were made against members of the committee. The
FBI lead an investigation and asked the Senators and Congressmen if they were
prepared to submit to lie detector tests.
Washington, DC, September 18, 2002. The committee's public hearings
have begun. Survivors of the September 11 victims also testify. 1,300 of them
have formed an association. Their spokesman is Stephen Push, who lost his wife.
She was sitting in the plane that al-Midhar's comrades flew into the Pentagon."had
the CIA and FBI displayed any initiative," he told the committee, his wife
would still be alive.
After that FBI and CIA agents addressed the committee, under a pledge of anonymity.
A curtain protected the agents from the eyes of the audience. Many of the survivors
sat there, silently taking souvenir photographs.
As some of the agents confess with tears in their voices how their supervisors
prevented them from investigating, it was too much for the widow of one fireman,
who died in the World Trade Center."These people were guilty of malfeasance,"
she complained."They should stand trial. They are at least partially responsible
for the deaths of 3,000 people."
Copyright 2002 Die Zeit