Monday, February 23, 2004

Wow. From the NY Times, 10:42 EST (3 hours or so before I type now), this doozy.

In March 1999, German intelligence officials gave the Central Intelligence Agency the first name and telephone number of Marwan al-Shehhi, and asked the Americans to track him….

After the Germans passed the information on to the C.I.A., they did not hear from the Americans about the matter until after Sept. 11, a senior German intelligence official said. "There was no response" at the time, the official said. After receiving the tip, the C.I.A. decided that "Marwan" was probably an associate of Osama bin Laden, but never tracked him down, American officials say.

… The information concerning Mr. Shehhi, the man who took over the controls of United Airlines Flight 175, which flew into the south tower of the World Trade Center, came months earlier than well-documented tips ….


An American official said: "The Germans did give us the name `Marwan' and a phone number, but we were unable to come up with anything. It was an unlisted phone number in the U.A.E., which he was known to use."


Mr. Shehhi and Mr. Atta traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 to train at a Qaeda camp with several other Sept. 11 plotters. And after returning to Germany, Mr. Shehhi made an ominous reference to the World Trade Center to a Hamburg librarian, saying: "There will be thousands of dead. You will all think of me," German authorities said.

Now, I'm not sold on the "Bush planned 9-11" theory. It would take a truly evil man to do that -- evil in the sense that the word is meant. Evil on par with genocide, not euphemism. A tip like this merits presidential attention, especially in light of Shehhi's quote. Unfortunately, the article doesn't say whether or not this information got to Bush's desk. It does say that the CIA and FBI are under a good deal of scrutiny, but the president in blameless until it's shown that he got the memo. So I don't want to jump to conclusions, but the CIA and FBI are executive branches that report to El Presidente. Furthermore, I don't want to see blame pushed off onto the German intelligence if that's not were it's due. The 9-11 commission needs to figure all of this out because I can't take any more scapegoating. If the CIA is to blame, then let's do something. If it's the president, let's impeach him. If it's Germany, I don't know what to do there. I doubt it's Germany's fault, though, because all of this occured in 1999 -- when we were still chummy with "old" Europe because Clinton was at the helm. (Yes, I do think that Clinton was a good foreign diplomat. He was an excellent orator, too. And that budget surplus thing was nice, too. Naturally, this doesn't excuse any sort of personal affair, but isn't the key word there "personal"? Didn't Kennedy only get a slap on the wrist, if that? Anyway...) While I'd love to see this end up in Bush's lap (no propaganda can make this better -- it's too sick), chances are pretty fair that this was a CIA oversight. But I rant.

Got a Katieletter today. Made my day in so many ways.

I heart James Joyce.

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