Skip to comments.Freeh Continues Criticism of Clinton Terror Record
Posted on 10/17/2005 4:46:20 AM PDT by Jim Robinson
The rancor between Louis Freeh and former President Bill Clinton, who appointed him director of the F.B.I. in 1993, was laid raw anew today as Mr. Freeh continued his assault on the Clinton administration's handling of terrorism, while a former presidential aide accused Mr. Freeh of an "astonishing string of failures that helped leave America vulnerable to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
Mr. Freeh, appearing on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" to promote a book he has written, repeated his assertion that the Clinton administration had failed to grasp the scope and severity of the threat of terrorism and had botched the investigation of the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which took 19 American lives.
Mr. Freeh said the administration had failed to press Saudi Arabian leaders for F.B.I. access to suspects in the bombing and - when it appeared that Iran might be behind the attack - had mishandled a letter of protest to the Iranian president in a way that needlessly infuriated both the Saudis and the Iranians.
President Clinton's last chief of staff, John Podesta, sharply rejected Mr. Freeh's accusations, which he has been making in the last week in a series of interviews to promote his new book, "My F.B.I.: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton and Fighting the War on Terror."
Contrary to Mr. Freeh's version of events, Mr. Podesta wrote in an op-ed article in The Washington Post today, "on numerous occasions, senior Clinton administration officials reiterated requests for full cooperation on Khobar Towers, including access to key witnesses, with interlocutors at the highest levels of the Saudi government."
According to Mr. Podesta, those in the room when President Clinton met with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia "all concur that Clinton pushed Abdullah hard for cooperation."
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
According to Mr. Podesta, those in the room when President Clinton met with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia "all concur that Clinton pushed Abdullah hard for cooperation."Maybe Clinton pushed Abdullah hard. Maybe Clinton offered him a cigar. Maybe Clinton doesn't remember clearly who he pushed hard or to whom he offered cigars. Clinton's memory is a bit stained with the stress of the events of those years. A stress that stained. Or was it a dress?
November 03, 2003, 7:53 a.m.
Clinton & Khobar
One of the keys to understanding the war over the war on terrorism.
If the Saudis feared U.S. military retaliation against Iran, they clearly didn't know with whom they were dealing. While the investigation into the murder of 19 Americans in an Iranian-backed operation was ongoing, the Clinton administration began a campaign to woo Teheran. It is difficult to warm relations with a regime at the same time as pursuing its connections to terror. So by 1998 the administration appeared prepared to forgive and forget Khobar Towers.
"American officials," writes Madeleine Albright biographer Thomas W. Lippman, "stopped saying in public that they suspected Iran of responsibility for the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Air Force residential compound in Saudi Arabia." The administration softened the State Department warning about travel to Iran, waived sanctions against foreign oil firms doing business there, and removed it from the list of major exporters of illegal drugs.
FBI director Louis Freeh, and those around him, began to suspect that the administration didn't care that much about finding the perpetrators because if connections with Iran were established it would be forced to take, or at least consider, action against Iran. This meant that getting to the bottom of the case would present what the administration hated most: a difficulty, a risk.
"It was hard," says Dale Watson, who was executive assistant director of the FBI for counterterrorism and counterintelligence. "It was hard because of the question: What would you do if there was a state sponsor behind this?" Instead of lapsing into its default mode of attempting to placate a country like Iran, the administration would have been forced at least to talk tough, and perhaps think about doing something about it. "It was an attitude of look the other way," says retired Special Forces Gen. Wayne Downing, who led a Pentagon review of the bombing in 1996.
"Director Freeh was the only one in Washington," says former chief of the international-terrorism division of the FBI Mike Rolince, "pushing for direct access to suspects, pushing for records, pushing for identities of the people, wanting this investigation to succeed. We got a lot of lip service from people who said that they were behind us, but we knew for a fact that when certain Saudi officials came into town and it was the right time to push them for things the Bureau wanted, we know from other people that the issue wasn't even raised. It was crystal clear to some of us that they were hoping that this whole thing would just go away."
In a meeting that was supposed to be devoted to pressuring the Saudis on Khobar, Clinton got weepy when Crown Prince Abdullah expressed support for him in the Lewinsky affair and didn't push the Saudi hard. Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar told Freeh that the White House wanted to avoid confrontation with Iran at all costs, even if it meant ignoring the Khobar Towers attack. For its part, the White House thought Freeh was out of control and trying to make U.S. foreign policy. "We weren't out of control," says Dale Watson, "we were working extremely hard to collect information and evidence that we could use possibly to charge and prosecute people with."
In the Khobar case, the law-enforcement approach itself risked creating pressure for a military strike. The White House was therefore angered when Freeh the head of its lead agency in the fight against terror, whose job it was to pursue the facts pursued the facts.
When Freeh told national security adviser Sandy Berger there was evidence to indict several suspects, Berger asked, "Who else knows this?" He then proceeded to question the evidence. A reporter for The New Yorker who later interviewed Freeh about the case writes that the FBI Director thought "Berger . . . was not a national security adviser; he was a public-relations hack, interested in how something would play in the press. After more than two years, Freeh had concluded that the administration did not really want to resolve the Khobar bombing."
Wasn't it Hillary who asked for these files??
Remember Khobar Towers
Nineteen American heroes still await American justice.
BY LOUIS J. FREEH
Tuesday, May 20, 2003 12:01 a.m. EDT
The FBI's investigation of the Khobar attack was extraordinarily persistent, indeed relentless. Our fallen heroes and their families deserve nothing less. Working in close cooperation with the White House, State Department, CIA and Department of Defense, I made a series of trips to Saudi Arabia beginning in 1996. FBI agents opened an office in Riyadh and aligned themselves closely with the Mabaheth, the kingdom's antiterrorist police. Over the course of our investigation the evidence became clear that while the attack was staged by Saudi Hezbollah members, the entire operation was planned, funded and coordinated by Iran's security services, the IRGC and MOIS, acting on orders from the highest levels of the regime in Tehran.
In order to return an indictment and bring these terrorists to American justice, it became essential that FBI agents be permitted to interview several of the participating Hezbollah terrorists who were detained in Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the interviews was to confirm--with usable, co-conspirator testimonial evidence--the Iranian complicity that Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan and the Mabaheth had already relayed to us. (For the record, the FBI's investigation only succeeded because of the real cooperation provided by Prince Bandar and our colleagues in the Mabaheth.) FBI agents had never before been permitted to interview firsthand Saudis detained in the kingdom.
Unfortunately, the White House was unable or unwilling to help the FBI gain access to these critical witnesses. The only direction from the Clinton administration regarding Iran was to order the FBI to stop photographing and fingerprinting official Iranian delegations entering the U.S. because it was adversely impacting our "relationship" with Tehran. We had argued that the MOIS was using these groups to infiltrate its agents into the U.S.
After months of inaction, I finally turned to the former President Bush, who immediately interceded with Crown Prince Abdullah on the FBI's behalf. Mr. Bush personally asked the Saudis to let the FBI do one-on-one interviews of the detained Khobar bombers. The Saudis immediately acceded. After Mr. Bush's Saturday meeting with the Crown Prince in Washington, Ambassador Wyche Fowler, Dale Watson, the FBI's excellent counterterrorism chief, and I were summoned to a Monday meeting where the crown prince directed that the FBI be given direct access to the Saudi detainees. This was the investigative breakthrough for which we had been waiting for several years.
Mr. Bush typically disclaimed any credit for his critical intervention but he earned the gratitude of many FBI agents and the Khobar families. I quickly dispatched the FBI case agents back to Saudi Arabia, where they interviewed, one-on-one, six of the Hezbollah members who actually carried out the attack. All of them directly implicated the IRGC, MOIS and senior Iranian government officials in the planning and execution of this attack. Armed with this evidence, the FBI recommended a criminal indictment that would identify Iran as the sponsor of the Khobar bombing. Finding a problem for every solution, the Clinton administration refused to support a prosecution.
Before his appointment as the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer chaired the National Commission on Terrorism, which studied the Khobar attack. The commission concluded that "Iran remains the most active state supporter of terrorism. . . . The IRGC and MOIS have continued to be involved in the planning and execution of terrorist acts. They also provide funding, training, weapons, logistical resources, and guidance to a variety of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, PIJ, and PFLP-GC." The commission noted that "in October 1999, President Clinton officially requested cooperation [a letter delivered through a third-party government] from Iran in the investigation [of the Khobar bombing]. Thus far, Iran has not responded. International pressure in the Pan Am 103 case ultimately succeeded in getting some degree of cooperation from Libya. The United States government has not sought similar multilateral action to bring pressure on Iran to cooperate in the Khobar Towers bombing investigation."
Monica's loose lips sinks ships.
Freeh was SO solid on MTP ... totally believable .. and Russert couldn't get him to flinch on one point, much as he was throwing the kitchen sink at him. Freeh won it hands down, Jim. I think he really is a straight arrow and squeaky clean, and I loved it. Think the Burglar's getting ready to debate Freeh ........?? NOT ;).
re: Wasn't it Hillary who asked for these files??
As I recall we never really knew just who had asked for the files. Or what was done with them, or how they actually had. That whole affair, like a lot of others in the Clinton years, was never fully investigated or explained. I am confident that future generations will look back on that period in our history and marvel at how badly the MSM failed us, going from being a solution to government misbehavior to at best an apologist for such behavior and eventually into a willing accomplice.
In other words, we need to cover this up....What unmitigated, ineffable, putrid, pantywaist, pusillanimous, moral flatulence. May God deal out justice to these people, I pray, in my lifetime.
Your posting from Mr. Lowry mirrors pretty closely the Clinton Administration's pressure on the U.N. weapons inspection teams not to look anywhere they might find anything.
He said that while the letter was supposed to have gone to President Mohammed Khatami, "it was misdelivered."
"It was delivered to the spiritual leader, who went berserk," Mr. Freeh said. "It compromised the Saudis, because it was clear from the letter that the Saudis had told us about the Iranians."
"Hell hath no fury like a former FBI chief spurned"
I'm donating my copy of Louis Freeh's book to the Clinton Library.
The only difference between Monica and Punk Podesta is that he discarded his Clintoon stained garments.
Freeh was great on MTP. He took responsibility for things he felt he could have done better, but he very capably defended himself from the Clinton spin.
I loved when he said something to the effect that, "Clinton has the right to twist the facts to his benefit. We know he's done that." I can't remember the exact words, but it was the perfect response.
Why didn't Freeh make any public statements during the time of his service? He was just as gutless as the rest..just a bureaucrat.
Or the little boy from Cuba ripped away at gunpoint from his relative's house in Florida.
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