This is coolbert:
A lot of hay has been made recently regarding the alleged identification of Atta and several of his confederates as being Al Qaeda operatives PRIOR to 9/11. This was supposedly [again, an allegation], an identification made by the Able/Danger intelligence unit. Apparently, using data mining techniques.
These allegations always make for lurid headlines in the newspapers. Especially those that have a political axe to grind. Headlines that seem to suggest - - NO - - SAY, that the government KNEW that the attack on 9/11 was coming!!
KNEW it, and yet DID NOTHING!!
OUR government is complicit, or so the headlines seem to say!!
Even such a person as Dick Morris, a political operative and advisor to President Clinton, wrote an article saying that "the government knew that 9/11 was coming!!" See this article by clicking here.
[I have often thought that I was a case officer for a foreign intelligence service [a hostile service could covet this even more], Dick Morris would be the # 1 person I would have like to have recruited to spy upon and influence the Clinton administration. Dick Morris was the ONE man most trusted by Bill Clinton. A man who the President listened to and sought the advice of. Dick Morris WAS a man at the center of things. NOT ONLY privy to information, but instrumental, in a big way, in formulating policy and advising the President. This WAS a man the Pres did listen to.
But, in addition, this was a man with very serious security problems. Was a married man with a prostitute mistress AND an illegitimate child to boot. Morris WAS a man susceptible to blackmail or recruitment by a foreign intelligence service!! Morris SHOULD have been the last man to be trusted so implicitly by the Pres, but for whatever reasons, he WAS!! Should NOT have been so!! A man such as Morris, if recruited by a foreign intelligence service, would be referred to by Sun Tzu as an "inward" spy!!]
Well, did our government know that 9/11 was going to happen and DID NOTHING??!!
NOT in the sense that the government knew of a date, time, persons involved, modus operandi [MO], and targets to be struck [WTC]. This the government did NOT know.
First consider the assertion of Dick Morris.
Morris is describing a commission chaired by VP Gore in 1998. Dealt with the POSSIBILITIES of airlines being hijacked and used as weapons of terrorism. This commission examined all possibilities and concluded that airliners COULD be used as weaponry, used as flying bombs. Pilots on suicide missions would fly an airliner into a target. This WAS seen as a possibility. Airline flights that originated overseas were seen as being flights most susceptible to hijacking and being employed as flying bombs. NOT domestic U.S. flights.
While admitting that airliners COULD be hijacked and employed as flying bombs, little if any measures were either taken or recommended by the Gore Commission!!
It probably was surmised that U.S. authorities had no real control over the security taken by foreign airlines. Almost nothing could be done to stop the hijacking of a foreign airliner.
Domestic flights were felt to be secure.
After all, there had not been a hijacking of a domestic airline flight in TEN YEARS!!
Persons on domestic flights STILL allowed, after the recommendations of the Gore Commission, to carry box cutters and pocket knives on their persons when boarding domestic flights [why a person on an airliner would EVEN FEEL compelled to carry a box cutter or pocket knife on an airline flight to begin with is a mystery to me. For what purpose would they possibly NEED such implements?? Well, it is OBVIOUS. There WAS NO RATIONAL NEED at all!!!].
[There had also, up until the time of 9/11 NOT been a case of MULTIPLE simultaneous hijackings. This had never been done!! It is reputed to be a major undertaking to hijack just one airline, much less four of them, and do so all at the same time!!]
Can it be said that the Gore Commission KNEW that 9/11 was going to happen, as is asserted by Dick Morris?? NO, obviously Dick Morris has overstated the case by magnitudes!! Much to his discredit.
As to the assertion that officials knew that Mohammad Atta and others associated with him WERE an Al Qaeda cell, this being evidence that the U.S. government KNEW that the 9/11 attack was going to happen!!??
It does seem that the Able/anger military intelligence unit, using data mining techniques, WAS able to determine that Atta WAS part of an Al Qaeda cell in the U.S. prior to 9/11.
Let us assume that is the case. This was determined to be true. Atta and his fellow conspirators had been identified! What would it mean?? What would have been done?
As has been determined by the 9/11 commission, NOT a whole lot. Given the law, the legal interpretations of those laws, and the procedures and protocols IN PLACE PRIOR to 9/11.
Up until the point that Atta and his confederates hijacked the first plane, killed the flight crew, and took control of the jet, they HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG!! Under what grounds could have legal action been taken against Atta?? I am not sure ANY ACTION could have been taken!! [you could make a case that Atta was an unregistered agent of a foreign power [this method of prosecuting spies and terrorists HAS been used in the past]. Other than that, I am not sure what other legal recourse was available to the U.S. government.]
Even if ACTION had been taken by the FBI or another branch of the U.S. government, such action might very well have taken a form that would surprise most people.
Contrary to what the average citizen would think, you DO NOT necessarily WANT to "catch" a spy, or in this case, a terrorist.
[The quotation attributed to English Prime Minister Harold Mac Millan, during the various spy scandals the English suffered in the 1950's, has been pointed to as evidence that governments tend to COVER-UP successful espionage efforts by foreign powers to prevent embarrassment on their [the English in this case] part.]
"Catch" here is used in the figurative sense of the word.
First, DO NOT arrest and making public the arrest, with fanfare. Rather, observe in a surreptitious manner, Atta and his confederates.
More can be gained, perhaps much more, by surreptitious observation of a terrorist cell than can be gained by mere arrest, trial, imprisonment of the terrorists. [and recall, what would you try the terrorists for prior to 9/11?? Deportation was an option. But counter-intelligence would have preferred the surreptitious observation route.]
There was the historic case of the FALN. Puerto Rican terrorists operating in the U.S.
A number of years ago now, an active terrorist cell of the FALN was detected by the FBI.
Rather than merely arresting the members of the cell, the FBI, using surreptitious methods [hidden microphones and video cameras], was able to actually observe over an extended period the members of the cell discussing plans and ACTUALLY manufacturing bombs to be detonated as part of a terrorist campaign. Insights not obtainable otherwise into the workings of the FALN was thereby obtained. [the conspirators WERE arrested prior to their employing the bombs!!]
[there was also the case in St. Louis where the FBI had hidden microphones in the home of a man known to be a Hamas terrorist. This man was caught on tape actually murdering his teenage daughter as part of an odious Arab tradition known as "honor killing". The daughter had sex with an American black teenager, this so outraging the father that he strangled his daughter, the whole event being recorded, unbeknowst to him!! This man now sits on death row in Missouri. Such is the case that the FBI DOES surreptitiously observes enemy spies and terrorists!!]
Surreptitious observation as a technique for obtaining insights of a "target" is not confined to intelligence agencies or counter-intelligence organizations.
There was another famous case where an American submarine trailed a Soviet submarine for forty five days straight without being detected!!
This was done by [the American sub] moving into and maintaining position in a "blind zone" where the Soviet subs detection devices were not effective. This sort of thing was done at CLOSE RANGE. VERY CLOSE RANGE. DANGEROUS!! Hard to do, but effective. Results and insights obtained cannot be done by OTHER means. It is important that the target NOT REALIZE THEY ARE BEING OBSERVED!! Great credit is due to the crew of that American submarine!!
Secondly, if the decision had been made to confront or apprehend Atta and his fellow terrorists, the scenario of confrontation or apprehension would again, be quite different from what most people imagine.
The FBI would have used a carrot and stick approach to try to "turn" Atta. Make him a double agent [double terrorist??] and work against his own masters.
[Sun Tzu would refer to such a spy [terrorist] as a "converted" spy [terrorist].
"Turning an agent, that is to say, convincing a man working in another cause that he should change sides and continue active in the conflict, with all the added risks involved, is clearly a psychological operation of immense complexity."
The reasons for doing this would be the same as they were when the British ran the XX "doublecross" program in World War Two [WW2].
According to Masterman, these reasons would include:
1. The prime object is to control the enemy espionage [terrorist] system in this country.
2. Our controlled agents will help us to contact and to apprehend new agents and spies [terrorists].
3. We obtain information about the personalities and working methods of the German service [Al Qaeda], and this knowledge is of the highest importance for counter-espionage purposes.
4. We get information about the code and cipher procedures of the enemy.
5. We gain evidence of the enemy's intentions.
6. With proper support and adequate preparation we can in some instances not only learn about, but also influence and perhaps change the operational intentions of the enemy.
7. Finally, we are in the position to deceive the enemy.
[John C. Masterman was the man who was part [chaired] of the British XX Committee during WW2 that "turned" and "ran" German spies caught in England during that conflict. If ANY man knows about "turning" agents and using them against their OWN masters, it IS THIS MAN!! In this regard, John C. Masterman was indeed a MASTER-MAN]
[Another archetype of this sort of counter-intelligence operation would be the German WW2 "North Pole" operation. The Germans were able to "sweep" up almost the entire Dutch resistance organization working for British SOE!! Various counter-intelligence agencies throughout the world are familiar with and adept at this methodology!!]
Turning a terrorist that work for Al Qaeda apparently has been done.
We like to think of these Al Qaeda hard cases as not being amenable to blandishments of the carrot and stick nature.
The case of Faris seems to indicate otherwise!
Faris apparently was the Al Qaeda operative living quite freely in the U.S. Working as a truck driver. Criss-crossing the country on purported espionage missions. Getting the lay of the land and surveying possible targets.
Is described as telling bin Laden that the Brooklyn bridge was too "hot". Meaning that facility DID NOT make a worthy target.
By whatever circumstances, Faris was detected, caught, and turned. Worked for the FBI against his buddies. Did a lot of cell phone work masking calls and identifying other Al Qaeda operatives world-wide. Was a very good catch. Turning a terrorist can and is and will be done. MUST be done. You want to do more than just CATCH the terrorist. You want him to lead you to other terrorist cohorts and roll up entire networks if possible. This CAN be done.
Again, did the identification of Atta through data mining techniques demonstrate that the U.S. government KNEW that 9/11 was going to happen in advance? NOT AS KNOWING IN ADVANCE AS THE WORDS ARE CONVENTIONALLY DEFINED AND USED IN EVERYDAY CONVERSATION MEANS!!