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Miami federal judge denies FBI motion to postpone trial on secret 9-11 records

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org 

Miami's Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse

Miami’s Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse

A Miami federal judge Thursday denied the FBI’s request to delay for 90 days a trial to decide whether certain secret records about 9/11 should be made public.

The trial before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga remains on schedule for the week of March 6.

“The FBI had 21 months to produce the records.  There was no reason to allow further delay,” said attorney Thomas Julin, who represents the Florida Bulldog.

The nonprofit news site’s corporate parent, Broward Bulldog Inc., sued the Justice Department and the FBI in June after three of its Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests seeking records generated by the 9/11 Review Commission received no response from the FBI. The Meese Commission, as it also is known, was authorized by Congress to conduct an “external” review of the FBI’s response to the attacks and to evaluate new evidence. It issued its final report in March 2015.

The FBI had requested and obtained a 30-day extension to file various pretrial paperwork in the case on Nov. 29. But at Thursday’s hearing, the FBI’s lawyer, Miami Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Raurell, asked Judge Altonaga to postpone the case again – this time for 90 days.

Raurell explained the FBI has located more than 1,100 records “potentially responsive” to the Bulldog’s FOIA request, but that 60 percent of them contain information from 27 other government agencies. The FBI, he said, needed the extra time because less than half those agencies with “equities” in those records had responded to the FBI’s requests for comments needed to justify to the court their claims for secrecy.

Raurell did not identify those 27 government agencies.

“The FBI’s reasons for trying to slow the case were utterly unbelievable.  It made no sense that 27 other agencies had to be consulted,” Julin said in an interview.

Records of ‘paramount’ importance

In a motion filed Wednesday opposing further delay, Julin wrote, “The Bulldog contends the records at issue are of paramount national and international importance because they are expected to shed light on whether the FBI found evidence in 2001 and 2002 that Saudi Arabia supported the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, but withheld that evidence from Congressional and other investigators.”

The judge directed the government to file by Dec. 30 its motion for summary judgment on whatever issues it could. That would likely include providing an explanation for redactions it made in 220 pages of Meese Commission records provided to the Bulldog in November. The motion would ask the court to dismiss the case. Julin said the Bulldog would have two weeks to respond in opposition.

Julin told the judge that if a trial is held, one of the witnesses he likely would call is former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who co-chaired Congress’ Joint Inquiry into 9/11. Graham has been a leading advocate of more government transparency regarding 9/11.

Altonaga also told the government she might consider another summary judgment motion shortly before trial on other matters.

The release of the 220 pages resulted in three stories. The first reported FBI claims that its agents investigating 9/11 did not obtain security records from a Sarasota gated community that contained alleged evidence that 9/11 hijackers had visited the residence of a Saudi family with ties to the royal family. Another story reported that the FBI censored records to hide how much it paid the 9/11 Commission members, including former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese.

Another document described a 2012 investigation of an apparent U.S. support network that aided two of the 9/11 hijackers – Saudis Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar – who with three other terrorists crashed an American Airlines passenger jet into the Pentagon.

The lawsuit is the second pending matter filed by Florida Bulldog that seeks access to 9/11 records. In 2012, the news organization sued after the FBI denied a FOIA request for records about its investigation of a Sarasota Saudi family with apparent ties to 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and other terrorists.

Six months after the lawsuit was filed, the FBI released a handful of documents that included an April 2002 FBI report that said the Sarasota Saudis had “many connections” to persons involved in 9/11. The Meese Commission later sought to discredit that report as “unsubstantiated,” but provided no explanation for that conclusion. It also refused to identify the agent who wrote the report or say whether he was disciplined for his possibly shoddy work.

In April 2014, Fort Lauderdale U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch ordered the FBI to produce 80,000 pages from its Tampa field office for his inspection. The judge’s review of those records continues.

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Latest comments

  • Hopefully, President Trump will force the release of more of the documents that the FBI are fighting to keep concealed from public disclosure.

    All this gamemanship the FBI/DOJ have been using to conceal their misconduct leading up to these attacks hopefully will see the light of day under Trump & Sessions.

    The 9/11 attack took place in Trump’s back yard, and Trump’s good buddy,Giuliani returned the $10 million check to the Saudi’s after 9/11.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/11/nyregion/giuliani-says-city-wont-accept-10-million-check-from-saudi.html

    I find it interesting that the staging area for 9/11 and Pulse Night Club, two of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the USA took place in the same FBI jurisdiction known as the Southern District of Florida, in particular Miami, West Palm & Ft. Pierce, FL.

    And some people are of the opinion that current FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch should be impeached for their handling of the Clinton investigation.

    http://observer.com/2016/10/james-comey-and-loretta-lynch-should-be-impeached-for-whitewashing-clintons-crimes/

    The New York Observer is owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

    http://seeking-justice.org/

  • Well as to the 27 different government agencies (Federal-State-County) that the FBI has claimed to need to get to sign off on the 1,100 records, the ones I knew of (17) back in 2002 when the FBI Secret Sarasota Investigation was going on were: ICE in Washington DC and Tampa and Bradenton Fl, Sarasota Police Dept CIU, Sarasota County Sheriff Dept, Charlotte County Sheriff Dept, Florida Dept Law Enforcement, Manatee County Sheriff Dept, Customs Border Protection Port of Tampa, US Postal Service, US Secret Service Tampa, Pinellas County Sheriff Dept, Hillsborough County Sheriff Dept, IRS, United States Attorney’s Office for Middle District of Florida Tampa, and DOD US Army CID agent Santa Ana CA. The Orange County CA-FBI Task Force was also involved. Individuals under investigation in Sarasota Tampa linked to individuals in Orange County CA.

  • Along with the FBI in Miami, West Palm Beach. Ft. Pierce offices the Tampa and Sarasota FBI offices are also involved. In late 1997, a Mark Cary. Sapperstein was paid approx. $9 million by Pinnacle Towers (Sarasota, FL.) as part of a $325 million IPO, a couple of years later Pinnacle was in bankruptcy in Tampa.

    Then a couple of months later in early 1998 Mark Sapperstein signed an affidavit in a Civil RICO case in the Southern District of Florida (SDFL) claiming he had essentially no financial or business ties in Florida.

    In this same case in 1998, the top federal prosecutors from Maryland and the SDFL got caught lying to the court about how I was only involved in a business dispute or civil matter with the Sapperstein’s and their associate a Charles Richard Longo Sr. and others.

    Longo had an estimated 2000 victims in Maryland & Virginia involving $12 million in Pell grants ,U.S. Dept. of Education student loan money.

    In 2003 it became public knowledge that Mark Sapperstein’s father, Gilbert had been stealing $3.5 million from the Baltimore School Board for about 10 years early 1990’s to 2003. Gilbert plead guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in a MD. State prison. Gilbert allegedly mysteriously disappeared for about 30 days and then miraculously reappeared at his personal residence to spend the balance of his sentence in the comfort of his personal residence.

    In 2015 I tried to get Longo’s FBI file and the FBI would only release about 43 pages of a 284 page file on Longo.

    Then I tried to get the FBI file on an FBI investigation into the Anne Arundel Economic Development Council in Annapolis, MD. in which two members of the Council were business associates of Mark Cary Sapperstein.

    The FBI released about 40 pages of nothing but newspaper clippings, without any 302 reports

    I know it was an extensive FBI investigation into the alleged activities of Sapperstein’s, as I introduced the FBI in Annapolis to a targeted victim, Jane Chamberlain that collaborated with the FBI for over a year.

    It will be a Herculean task for Trump and Jeff Sessions to clean up the FBI/DOJ !

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