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.
Oct. 16, 2005
Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
MR. LOUIS FREEH: Morning, Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: Your new book, "My FBI," has created a lot of debate with some of the comments you've made about the investigation regarding Khobar Towers. Let me remind our viewers, Khobar Towers, June 25, 1996, tragic scene, 19 Americans killed when car bombers blew up a facility where American servicemen were staying.
On September 24, President Clinton met with then Crown Prince, now King Abdullah--there there are in the Rose Garden--and at that meeting, President Clinton insists that he asked the crown prince for cooperation in terms of the investigation you were conducting on who did Khobar Towers and why. And you write: "The story that came back to me from `usually reliable sources'"--in quotes--"as they say in Washington, was that Bill Clinton briefly raised the subject only to tell the crown prince that he certainly understood the Saudis' reluctance to cooperate. Then, according to my sources, he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the still-to-be-built Clinton presidential library."
You were not in the room.
MR. FREEH: I was not in the room.
MR. RUSSERT: Who are these "usually reliable sources"?
MR. FREEH: Well, the usually reliable sources in this case, Tim, are very senior people who had firsthand knowledge of the meeting, who have identity with the principals at the meeting. They're not second-hand sources. They're not hearsay people. I did confirm it with them after the book came out because of some of the questions, and I feel very confident on their information.
MR. RUSSERT: Were they in the meeting?
MR. FREEH: I'm not going to identify my sources, obviously, but I think you have to look beyond that September 24 meeting and put the whole Khobar investigation into context. The New Yorker magazine article, which was in the spring of 2001, actually corroborates the one part of the story which is that the president didn't seriously or vigorously persecute the request, the request being to get FBI agents into the prison in Saudi Arabia to talk to detainees who would ultimately tell us that the Iranian government was responsible for this attack.
MR. RUSSERT: Now, the president, former President Clinton, has issued to NBC News a statement through his spokesman, and I'll read it for you: "It is disappointing the level to which Freeh will stoop to sell books -- among many other untruths, he invents baseless claims about the Khobar Towers investigation. Despite Freeh's claims about a meeting he did not attend, President Clinton pushed firmly and successfully for Saudi cooperation with the investigation, which led to the eventual indictments of the criminals, and he never asked for library funds."
I've also spoken to a National Security official--National Security Council official who says he debriefed both President Clinton and the translator, and he can confirm the president did push for cooperation and there was no mention of library funds.
MR. FREEH: Look, the president's entitled to his denials. This is a president that makes public denials from time to time. We know that. Let me just give you what we would call corroborating evidence, which is what investigators and prosecutors talk about.
For over two years--over two years--I pressed the president, his national security advisor, to pursue one simple request with the crown prince. And the request was to get FBI agents into prison cells in Saudi Arabia, where three of the detainees who had actually performed the bombing--these are members of the Saudi Hezbollah, which is an agent of the Iranian government. An extraordinary request. FBI agents had never been in Saudi Arabia, Tim, let alone in a prison debriefing Saudi nationals. For two and a half years, we got no movement on that request. We would write the talking points for the president. The Saudis would tell us they didn't raise it. They didn't raise it seriously. And nothing happened for two and a half years.
Then on September 26, at my request, former President Bush, with the same set of talking points, met with the crown prince in the Saudi residence out in McLean, Virginia, and made the simple request. FBI agents need to get into that prison. President Bush called me after the meeting, and he said, "I think you'll be hearing from the Saudis." The following Tuesday at 1:00, myself, our ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Wyche Fowler, and Dale Watson, the head of my counterterrorism division, who, by the way, will confirm the information about the source, were summoned out to the crown prince's residence. And the crown prince, referencing his meeting with President Bush, not with President Clinton, said, "I approve your request." Turned to his ambassador and said, "Direct my brother, the interior minister, to get the FBI agents in there." Within four weeks...
MR. RUSSERT: But...
MR. FREEH: ...excuse me, within eight weeks, FBI agents were in that prison.
MR. RUSSERT: But President Clinton met with the crown prince on the 24th. Vice President Gore met with him on the 24th. Former President Bush on the 26th. They all could have been effective in help bringing about that result.
MR. FREEH: Well, look, it's what we would call circumstantial evidence. I think it's very powerful circumstantial evidence. But there are a lot of other things going on here, too. What do you say about a president and a national security advisor who, for two and a half years while the Khobar investigation is going on, which the president tells the American people is a critical investigation, no stone will be left unturned. What do you say about a president who never asked me for a status on the case? They never asked me, "Louis, what's going on? Any progress by the FBI?" Absolutely no interest in the case.
When I finally came back to Sandy Berger and told him we now had evidence that the Iranian government had murdered 19 Americans--killed, wounded over 300, his first reaction was, "Who knows about this?" And his second reaction was "Well, that's hearsay." This was an administration that was not interested in finding out that the Iranian government had blowed up--had blown up Khobar Towers.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Berger said they did, in fact, act on information and that you later acknowledged you withheld indicting Iranians until President Clinton left office, that you slow-rolled the investigation and that was not responsible.
MR. FREEH: Yeah, well, that's nonsense. We presented the case to the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia who, by the way, had never prosecuted a criminal case. And she looked at it and she said, "Louis, I don't think you have a case here." I said, "With all due respect, I used to do this for a living. We have a case." And James called me when he was appointed as a prosecutor by John Ashcroft. He indicted the case in eight weeks with the same evidence.
Now, to your other point, we prosecuted this case very hard. We couldn't get an indictment during the Clinton administration. And in terms of Sandy Berger's work, let me tell what you he did. Talk about ineptness and compromising an investigation, he writes a letter--the president of the United States writes a letter to the Iranian president in 1999, a letter that says, "We think you may be involved in the murder of our 19 Americans at Khobar. Please help us or you won't get better trade assistance or foreign relations by the United States." They never told me they were writing that letter, Tim. The president of the United States never told the attorney general and the chief investigator that they were writing that letter.
To make it worse, and to show the ineptness, the letter was supposed to be delivered to President Khatami. They gave it to the Omanis to deliver it. It was misdelivered. It was delivered to the spiritual leader, who went berserk. It compromised the Saudis, because it was clear from the letter that the Saudis had told us about the Iranians. The Saudis were never told about the letter. This is how they prosecute the case. It would be the equivalent of the attorney general writing John Gotti a letter and saying, "Mr. Gotti, we know a couple of your capos are involved in major racketeering cases. Could you please cooperate with us" but not telling the U.S. attorney and the FBI that was investigating the case that such a letter was being sent.
MR. RUSSERT: Would you be willing to debate Sandy Berger about this issue?
MR. FREEH: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: On this program?
MR. FREEH: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: Elsa Walsh in today's Washington Post writes a review of your book, and she says that you referred the alleged library request that you suggest President Clinton made to the Saudis to a grand jury for investigation. Is that true?
MR. FREEH: I spoke about it with a U.S. attorney, not for investigation.
MR. RUSSERT: And what happened?
MR. FREEH: Oh, I can't go into that.
MR. RUSSERT: Was it investigated?
MR. FREEH: I don't think it was investigated, no.
MR. RUSSERT: Why not?
MR. FREEH: There's a long history there that I can't go into.
MR. RUSSERT: Newt Gingrich, Republican, former speaker of the House, said, "If the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is prepared to swear that the president of the United States, Bill Clinton, while in office, was asking for money from a foreign leader, I think that is a criminal offense of the first order and threatens the very nature of the American system."
Would you go under oath and say that you know for certain that Bill Clinton made this request to the Saudis?
MR. FREEH: Well, Tim, I say what I said in my book on page 25. It's reporting information from a source. I wasn't at the meeting. I'm not making the allegation myself. I'm repeating it because I think it's very significant. It's also absolutely consistent with all the other evidence with respect to Khobar. I don't think it is a criminal offense, by the way. It may be an ethics offense. I do not think is it a criminal offense.
MR. RUSSERT: But we live in an era now where, if you are reporting this and there was, in fact, an investigation and you were subpoenaed, you would have to give up the information as to who your source was.
MR. FREEH: I'm sure I would.
MR. RUSSERT: And you would?
MR. FREEH: I would.
MR. RUSSERT: Bill Clinton wrote a book in 2004 called "My Life." And let me read it for you. It says, "I was getting concerned about the FBI, for reasons far more important than the bureau's sex inquiries for Ken Starr. There had been a whole series of missteps on Louis Freeh's watch: botched reports from the FBI forensic laboratory that threatened several pending criminal cases; large cost overruns in two computer systems designed to upgrade the National Crime Information Center and to provide quick fingerprint checks to police officers all across the country; the release of FBI files on Republican officials to the White House; and the naming and apparent attempted entrapment of Richard Jewell, a suspect in the Olympic bombing case who was subsequently cleared. ... Freeh had been criticized by the press and by Republicans in Congress, who cited the FBI missteps as the reason for their refusal to pass the provision in my anti-terrorism legislation that would have given the agency wiretap authority to track down suspected terrorists as they moved from place to place. There was one sure way for Freeh to please the Republicans in Congress and get the press off his back: he could assume an adversarial position toward the White House. Whether out of conviction or necessity, Freeh had begun to do just that."
MR. FREEH: You want me to comment on that?
MR. RUSSERT: Please.
MR. FREEH: Well, it's interesting; you know, if he felt that way, he should have fired me, first of all. He never did that. And, you know, he didn't wait till his book to attack the FBI or try to undermine me. It was sort of a regular routine, if you remember, at the White House, after a while. His press spokesman would get up and they would say, "What does the president think of the director?" And the press spokesman, using some of those same bullets and talking points, would say, "Well, the president thinks the FBI director is doing the best he can," which was a direct attack on a sitting FBI director. I never commented on the president of the United States while I was in office, despite being attacked, being undermined. He didn't like the FBI. He thought the FBI and the FBI director, you know, had a personal animus against him because they were always investigating him.
Well, you know what? We were always investigating him because there were always Bill Clinton allegations. And independent counsels were investigating him. Ultimately, the Congress of the United States was investigating him. He didn't get it that this wasn't personal, that the FBI director has the responsibility of conducting those investigations. And the fact that he didn't like it, I understand it. I wouldn't like being investigated by the FBI for seven years, either. But the fact of the matter is, we didn't come up with the allegations. We didn't look for things to do. We had a lot of serious work we'd like to do besides the nonsense that preoccupied us with the president.
MR. RUSSERT: But there was bad blood?
MR. FREEH: Well, you'd have to ask him about that. I didn't have any bad blood. I didn't have any animus towards him. I have great respect for him, anybody that holds that office. I think, you know, he turned the office into a personal disgrace. That was his own business. But that didn't have anything to do with what I was doing as the FBI director.
MR. RUSSERT: Richard Clarke, President Clinton's head of counterterrorism, said that you should have been spending your time fixing the mess at the FBI and pursuing terrorists rather than some of the other efforts that you were undertaking.
MR. FREEH: Well, you know, we were pursuing terrorists. We didn't get the funding that we wanted. I talk about that in my book. We asked in terms of new counterterrorism resources for 1998, '99 and 2000, 1,900 positions. We got 76. I asked for $381 million in 2000 for new counterterrorism resources, I got $17 million, etc, etc. But that's not because the FBI wasn't focused on terrorism. And Bill Clinton and the whole administration was focused on terrorism. The problem with what we were doing, which became very apparent on September 11, and one of the best conclusions of the 9/11 Commission: Neither President Bush nor President Clinton had put the country or their National Security Councils on a war footing before September 11.
What were we doing before September 11? We indicted bin Laden twice in the southern district of New York. I put him on the FBI's top 10 list. In the spring of 2000, I went over to Lahore and met with President Musharraf, who was of no help, by the way. I wanted to get custody and access to bin Laden so we could bring him back to the United States and prosecute him. And Musharraf told me that he had spoken to Omar Mullah, who had assured me there was no terrorism going on with respect to bin Laden. In other words, we were doing this while they were blowing up embassies, while they were blowing up warships. They had declared and were waging war against the United States, and we didn't declare war back until September 11. That's what was going on in the country before September 11.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Charles Grassley, Republican, said you had plenty of money and he cites the comments you made before Congress in May of 2001, where you say, "We received the human, technical and financial resources needed to keep the FBI at the cutting edge of investigations. ...Over the nearly eight years that I have been Director, Congress has increased the FBI's budget by more than $1.27 billion...That is a 58% increase ..."
You could have asked Congress to redeploy people to cover terrorism rather than some other areas, but you didn't.
MR. FREEH: Well, look, on the budget--and the budget is a very interesting and a very arcane process, as you know, here in Washington--I doubled the number of agents that were working in counterterrorism in my period. I tripled our resources. I was very thankful for those resources; I still am. But that wasn't any way to fight a war. The FBI today has 1,400 more agents than it had when I left office, 1,400 more agents. And the priority that counterterrorism has taken on for the FBI, which is appropriate, takes resources from civil rights cases, from white collar crime cases, from public corruption cases. And I couldn't move people around as I wanted to.
When Congress appropriates resources, it tells us "OK, you've got 100 new agents for health care. You've got 25 new agents for deadbeat dads cases," believe it or not. It's very programmed and we have very, very little discretion. One of the recommendations I made to the 9/11 Commission, give the FBI director and the attorney general the discretion to move resources around as necessary. We've never had that.
MR. RUSSERT: The inspector general of the Justice Department, however, said that the FBI was a significant failure, widespread long-standing deficiencies, that two of the hijackers had stayed with an FBI informant but no one ever found out about it. Fifteen of the hijackers came to the United States, in effect, on your watch. The chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean, said that the report is an indictment of the FBI because it failed and failed and failed. And here's the actual language from the September 11th commission, page 76: "Freeh recognized terrorism as a major threat. Freeh's efforts did not, however, translate into a significant shift of resources to counter terrorism. FBI, Justice, Office of Management and Budget officials said that the FBI leadership seemed unwilling to shift resources to terrorism from other areas such as violent crime and drug enforcement."
MR. FREEH: No, I disagree with. And you know, while we're on the subject of the 9/11 Commission, I'm very interested, I know the country is, in the Able Danger report. You know, we have now very honorable military officers telling the United States, Tim, that in 2000, not only had Mohamed Atta had been identified by photo and name but was earmarked as an al-Qaeda operative in the United States. Apparently this information was brought to the 9/11 Commission prior to their report. There's no reference to it. That's the kind of tactical intelligence that would make a difference in stopping a hijacking. It's not the strategic intelligence, the stuff that comes out of--like water out of a fire hydrant and then in hindsight you say "Well, you missed these three molecules of water." We're very interested in what the 9/11 Commission didn't do with respect to Able Danger.
MR. RUSSERT: There has been a lot of criticism of the information systems at the FBI. The 9/11 Commission said "The FBI's information systems were woefully inadequate. The FBI lacked the ability to know what it knew. There was no effective mechanism for capturing or sharing its institutional knowledge."
U.S. News & World Report wrote this, and this is chilling: "Before the September 11th attacks FBI agents were still using old `386' and `486' computers and had no Internet access or FBI e-mail. After the attacks, FBI headquarters staff had to send photographs of the 19 hijackers to the 56 field offices by FedEx because they lacked scanners. `Top managers, including [former director] Louis Freeh, didn't use computers and weren't chagrinned about it,' says the Justice Department's inspector general, Glenn Fine."
Ron Kessler in this book "The Bureau" said that you had the computer removed from your office.
MR. FREEH: Well, that's ridiculous. First of all, he was never in my office. The computer was behind my desk. We had an abysmal information technology system and I take a lot of responsibility for that. I asked beginning in 1993 for millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, which we never got. They got $1 billion after 9/11. It's a testament to the FBI men and women who made cases with a technology that was completely inferior.
But it wasn't just the technology. Let's look at the attorney general guidelines before September 11th. And this is my point before, Tim, and I think the commission's point, that we weren't at war. We weren't taking this serious before September 11th. If on September 10, bin Laden was going to hold a rally in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park an FBI agent couldn't go and stand in the crowd and listen to him, OK? Because attorney general guidelines, which were put in place actually appropriately many years ago because the FBI did illegal things that it shouldn't have done, those guidelines would have prevented an FBI agent, Louis Freeh, from standing there and listening to a fatwa about killing Americans anywhere.
So that's where we were, and I think, you know, hindsight is great. We certainly have plenty of it and we can learn from hindsight. We certainly made a lot of mistakes and I made mistakes there that I'm responsible for. But the reality of it is we treated terrorism like a crime before September 11th. And when in Khobar we didn't prosecute that case. We didn't vigorously prosecute that case. The reason I think that's so important is this wasn't a Hezbollah group. This was the Iranian government that did this. And we reached the point, Tim, where the Iranians knew that we knew they had murdered those young men and we did nothing.
MR. RUSSERT: John Podesta, President Clinton's former chief of staff, has an op-ed piece in The Washington Post today called "Freeh's Self-Whitewash," and he says that in your book you "distinguished by shameless buck-passing. Nothing, it seems, was ever Louis Freeh's fault." You write in your book, "I still fault myself for many shortcomings during my tenure as director. ...You can always do the job better in hindsight, and if nothing else, 9/11 gave us all cause for that. ...I should have done better on my watch."
What could you have done better?
MR. FREEH: I think what I could have done better is I could have prepared the FBI better for September 11. And I would take that right back to information technology. And did I a bad job there. I didn't get the funding we needed. But it's not that I didn't know we had a problem. It's not that I didn't understand and we didn't have people there that were conscious of it. But I didn't succeed that, and I'm very, very sorry I didn't do that.
Meanwhile, the FBI agents, the men and women of the FBI, who the American people can be so proud of, made incredible counterterrorism cases during that period. Kansi was brought back to the United States. He had murdered CIA people outside of Langdon. He was arrested in Pakistan. Ramzi Yousef was arrested by FBI agents in Pakistan, brought back to the United States for the 1993 World Trade Tower and a plan to blow up 11 airliners over the United States. They made incredible cases. The embassy bombing cases. We brought people back to New York and prosecuted. The problem was bin Laden was not going to be afraid of a marshal showing up with an arrest warrant.
MR. RUSSERT: If there are indictments of White House officials for leaking CIA identity, should they resign?
MR. FREEH: Sure.
MR. RUSSERT: Mark Felt, former deputy director of the FBI, Deep Throat, what did you think of his behavior?
MR. FREEH: You know, I don't think--I don't think he had, as some people have in those positions, no access and no ability to tell his story. This was a very powerful member of the FBI. This wasn't, you know, an agent locked away as a whistleblower some place. He had plenty of access if he wanted to do what he said he wanted to do, which was to protect the country and bring that information out. I think he should have done it at the time.
MR. RUSSERT: So you don't think he acted appropriately?
MR. FREEH: If it was me, I would have acted at the time. I would have had the power and the ability to act.
MR. RUSSERT: What were his motivations?
MR. FREEH: I don't know.
MR. RUSSERT: But you as Louis Freeh would have never spoken to the press as freely as he did?
MR. FREEH: Absolutely not.
MR. RUSSERT: But you have in this book, "My FBI."
MR. FREEH: Well, you know, Tim, it's my story. I didn't write my story and you can't tell your story when you're a public official. I wanted to tell the story about the FBI because I'm so proud of them. And I actually--to be honest with you, I got tired reading other people's books. You know, they've got you at meetings you never attended. They've got you saying things you never said. This is my story and I'm very proud of it.
MR. RUSSERT: Louis Freeh, we thank you for joining us. To be continued.
And we'll be right back.
Note to self - Get Freeh's book
I tend to think he just wanted to LIVE to tell the story..There is a time and place for everything. With Clinton our of power, and the Hildabeast looking at the Presidency..its now or never.
Its getting close.
Thank you for posting the transcript.
I do not watch/own TV, so could not have learned of this without your report.
Ping to a good thread.
Whatever happened to the DiBello memo?
Wonder why Russert didn't mention the 46 federal indictments against the Klinton Kabal.
One piece of the puzzle that Mr. Fallis uncovered was an intelligence report about a secret meeting of al Qaeda terrorists in a condominium complex in Malaysia in January 2000.
Information obtained after September 11 identified two of them as Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who would be on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. They met with a former Malaysian army captain, Yazi Sufaat, described by Malaysian authorities as a key link in Southeast Asia for al Qaeda, who later would be tied to the bombing of the Cole.
What alarmed U.S. intelligence at the time was that Malaysian security officials traced the men to the Iranian Embassy there, where they spent the night.
LOL. That's a good one!
USS Cole `prophet` quits
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
DIA analyst identified
Pentagon officials have identified the Defense Intelligence Agency counterterrorism analyst who quit in protest a day after the bombing of the USS Cole. Kie Fallis is charging that a report he wrote on the threat of a terrorist attack in Yemen was suppressed by senior DIA officials.
No sooner had the ink dried on Mr. Fallis' Oct. 13 letter of resignation than his computer access was cut off and his e-mail account deleted. He must now be escorted by security guards when he is at DIA for his last two weeks. Mr. Fallis was waiting to express his concerns in a meeting with Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, the DIA director, before going public with his politically charged claims. His strategy was preempted by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who made public the resignation Wednesday.
DIA and Pentagon spokesmen are trying to spin the resignation. "People resign from the DIA every month for personal reasons and we won't comment on those personnel actions,'' the DIA's Capt. Mike Stainbrook said.
When asked if one analyst quit after the bombing, he reluctantly said, "yes.''
As for suppressing Mr. Fallis' intelligence threat assessment of Yemen, Capt. Stainbrook would not say if the assessment was mishandled but stated:
"We categorically deny that any threat information has been suppressed in the case of the USS Cole, Yemen or Aden, nor would we ever suppress such information.''
The protesting DIA analyst isn't the Pentagon's only intelligence problem.
The Pentagon confirmed a report in The Washington Times on Wednesday that a terrorist warning was sent hours after the Oct. 12 bombing in Aden harbor that killed 17 sailors. The top-secret National Security Agency report was issued about six hours after the attack. It said that terrorists were engaged in "operational planning'' for an attack and had traveled to Dubai and Beirut in preparation.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said he was told the warning "related specifically to Yemen.''
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said in a statement that the DIA analyst who resigned in protest had told Adm. Wilson he "had some concerns about how the agency used his analytical views.'' Mr. Fallis's report had no information that would have provided "tactical warning of the attack on the USS Cole,'' Mr. Bacon said. Did it contain "strategic warning'' of terrorism in Yemen? We'll investigate further.
Target: CIA China shop
If Texas Gov. George W. Bush is elected president, Republican national security officials are planning a major house-cleaning for the CIA's China analysis division, and its longtime chief Dennis Wilder.
"A posting in Beijing would be a nice change,'' said a source close to the Bush campaign. Mr. Wilder, we are told, is a key China "apologist'' who has bent analysis in favor of a benign view of China, a view that has reached the status of political orthodoxy within the Clinton administration.
Word of the personnel targeting comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee failed earlier this month to pass tough provisions in this year's intelligence authorization bill to fix the CIA's China analysis problem. Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has told The Washington Times that the agency's analysis on China issues is weak and biased in favor of a benign view of the so-called Middle Kingdom.
Gertz writes of how Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Kie Fallis was blocked from issuing a terrorist threat warning that could have saved lives of American sailors killed in the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen. "Fallis fought hard with an entrenched bureaucracy to have a warning issued about an imminent attack, but DIA refused," Gertz reports. "The reason was office politics: he had dated a woman who wrote an astounding incorrect analysis the month before the Cole bombing, arguing that terrorists were not capable of conducting a small boat attack on a ship. DIA higher-ups said he pushed his analysis to contradict that of his ex-girlfriend. In reality, Fallis had developed a unique methodology that led him to conclude an al Qaeda attack was imminent."
Gertz reveals an internal letter from CIA spies sharply criticized the politically correct policies of CIA Director George Tenet. Numerous other CIA shortcomings and failures are detailed by Gertz.
Denying and discrediting
Back at the DIA, Mr. Fallis´ heart sank as he received the first report of the attack on the Cole. Disgusted, he quit in protest that day.
Mr. Fallis had recently finished a year with the FBI, investigating the deadly bombings of the Khobar Towers barracks in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, in 1996 and of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. In tracking bin Laden´s al Qaeda network, he found that the terror group was intimately linked to Iran´s intelligence and security services.
Mr. Fallis´ resignation letter sent to the DIA´s director, Vice Adm. Thomas R. Wilson, cited "significant analytical differences" with supervisors. Worse, he said, at least two more terrorist attacks were coming, likely in Bosnia or Malaysia.
"This was a huge intelligence failure," Mr. Fallis said.
He was treated like an enemy as soon as his resignation was accepted. His access to a computer was immediately cut off, his e-mail account deleted. Supervisors refused to speak to him; they didn´t ask why he was leaving.
One DIA security official told Mr. Fallis during an exit interview that the terror division´s leadership was trying to discredit him. Yet his performance appraisal of July 2000 called his previous year´s service "distinguished," the highest rating possible, as did all previous appraisals. An intelligence medal was "in the pipeline." He never got it.
By May 2000, Mr. Fallis had written a highly classified report on his findings, most based on information gleaned months earlier.
"I obtained information in January of 2000 that indicated terrorists were planning two or three major attacks against the United States," he said. "The only gaps were where and when."
A red flag pointing to the Cole bombing appeared in mid-September 2000 when bin Laden issued the videotape that aired on Qatari satellite television, an Arabic-language news service. "Every time he put out one of these videotapes, it was a signal that action was coming," Mr. Fallis said.
For Mr. Fallis, the "eureka point" before the Cole bombing in determining an impending terrorist attack came from a still-classified intelligence report in September 2000, which he will not discuss. But after the bin Laden video surfaced that same month, Mr. Fallis said, he "knew then it would be within a month or two."
Thanks for posting the interview. I was wondering what was said.
Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote to all DIA personnel this week to explain the protest resignation of a DIA analyst in October. The analyst, Kie Fallis, quit the day after the USS Cole was attacked by suicide bombers in Aden, Yemen. Mr. Fallis charged that a report he had written on the threat of a terrorist attack in Yemen was suppressed by senior DIA officials.
Mr. Fallis' resignation letter stated that he had "significant analytic differences" with DIA superiors over a terrorist threat assessment produced in June.
U.S. intelligence officials said there were warnings, but they arrived too late. The National Security Agency issued a report shortly after the Cole was bombed warning of attacks in the region too late to be useful.
Adm. Wilson said he asked the Pentagon inspector general (IG) to investigate Mr. Fallis' charges. In an awkwardly worded statement, the three-star admiral said on Wednesday the IG "found no evidence to support the public perception that information warning of an attack on Cole was suppressed, ignored or even available in DIA." What about the private perception?
The admiral's statement drew smirks from several intelligence officials. It relied on a dodge often used by intelligence analysts to dismiss unwelcome information. Saying there is "no evidence" like that presented to a court of law is often used to mask the fact there is lots of intelligence to the contrary that spooks would rather not talk about in public.
The MSM keeps citing defense lawyers as the culprit in Able Danger...however...
Shaffer says he was trying to broker a connection between SOCOM and the FBI. Shaffer told Spencer that one reason that Able Danger got denied permission to brief the FBI on their findings was that there was a fear not just among Pentagon lawyers but among Special Ops command that if things went badly with any FBI operation to take out the al Qaeda cells they had identified, it would be another Waco."VADM Wilson was a Three Star General.
Spencer says, He didnt blame the DoD lawyers so much, but the command (for blocking the team from sharing their findings with the FBI). Not Schoomaker . It rose to the level of a 2-star, 3-star general, who he didnt name...
Thank you for the post, it appears that Russert is far more interested in covering clinton's butt than learning about terrorists.
Let me guess, Russert went after Freeh on Sunday morning, but let that lying piece of garbage, Aaron Broussard get away with lying and lying on Meet the Press?
I would like him to elaborate more about Kansi. Will he say if this was a hit on a specific target at the CIA?
Because the liberal elite do not like egg on their faces..they prefer payback..indictments of every person in the Bush admin. they can set their cameras on..to do less would be to admit they were wrong..cant have that in the Media!
Tim Russert took on the role of Defense Attorney for the Clintons. Pathetic.
Podesta makes my skin crawl....what a sleezy guy.
Wonder how much the Clintons paid Tim Russert, their new Defense Attorney?