By Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers, BrowardBulldog.org
Contradicting an earlier assertion made under oath by a senior FBI official, an attorney for the Justice Department said Wednesday that the FBI has identified four more boxes of “classified” 9/11 documents held by its Tampa field office.
The government, however, has yet to comply with a federal judge’s orders that it turn over, by last Friday, copies of that massive 9/11 file – now said to total 27 boxes – for his personal inspection.
U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch issued those orders this month in a Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by BrowardBulldog.org seeking records about the FBI’s investigation into apparent pre-9/11 terrorist activity in Sarasota.
In an email to the news organization’s attorney, Thomas Julin, Miami Assistant U.S. Attorney Dexter Lee said the government was prepared to file the documents with the court last Friday “as ordered.” The Justice Department, however, determined that Zloch’s chambers do not have a safe with “storage capability for classified documents.”
“The plan at present is to deliver the safe (which holds four boxes) on Thursday, May 1, 2014, along with the first four boxes of classified materials,” Lee said. “When the court has completed its review of the four boxes, chambers will be contacted and I will deliver four more boxes, as well as retrieving the material already reviewed.”
Lee said, too, that he will deliver to the court on Friday as ordered CD ROMs containing scanned versions of the classified documents.
The government’s piecemeal document delivery plan deviates substantially from Zloch’s orders, which require the production of photocopies of the FBI’s entire 9/11Tampa file all at once. If approved, it would delay the production of records to the judge for inspection by weeks or months.
The existence of four additional boxes of 9/11 records could add to any delay.
Lee’s disclosure about the additional four boxes calls into question the accuracy of the sworn declaration submitted to the court two weeks ago by FBI Records section chief David M. Hardy.
Hardy told the court that the entire Tampa 9/11 “sub file” was “comprised of 23 boxes of records” including “a substantial, but undetermined amount of material classified at the ‘secret’ level.” Prosecutor Lee did not explain why the file is now said to be 27 boxes.
The FBI probe that is the focus of the Freedom of Information lawsuit investigated a Saudi family with ties to the Royal Family and apparent connections to some of the 9/11 hijackers, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, and former Broward resident and currently suspected al Qaeda leader Adnan Shukrijumah.
The investigation began after neighbors in the upscale south Sarasota gated community of Prestancia called authorities to report that Abulaziz al-Hijji and his wife, Anoud, had suddenly moved out of their home two weeks before 9/11, leaving behind cars, furniture, clothing and food in the kitchen.
Sources have said agents later found gatehouse logs and photographs of license tags and phone records, showing that Atta, Shukrijumah and others had visited the al-Hijji’s home.
Al-Hijji, who later worked for the European subsidiary of the state oil company Saudi Aramco, told London’s Daily Telegraph last year that he condemned the terror attacks and had no involvement in them. The FBI has said publicly that its Sarasota investigation found no evidence connecting the family either the hijackers or the 9/11 plot.
The FBI, however, kept the investigation secret until BrowardBulldog.org first disclosed it in September 2011.
Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who co-chaired Congress’s Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks, has said that the FBI did not disclose the existence of the Sarasota investigation to either the Joint Inquiry or the subsequent 9/11 Commission.
The FOIA lawsuit was filed in September 2012 after the FBI denied administrative requests for the release of its records about the matter. In March 2013, the government unexpectedly released more than two-dozen heavily censored records that nevertheless undercut the Bureau’s previous public denials.
The documents state that the Sarasota Saudis had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.” One document lists three individuals, with names blacked out, and ties them to the Venice, Florida flight school where suicide hijackers Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained.
Last week, the government provided 27 pages of classified documents to Judge Zloch that bear the blanked out case number affixed to the April 16, 2002 FBI report disclosing the family’s “many connections” to terrorists.
The judge’s order directs the government to immediately produce any documents responsive to the news organization’s Freedom of Information request. Attorney Julin has asked the government to say whether any of those 27 pages are responsive and nonexempt, and if so to make them public.
Prosecutor Lee said he’s working with the FBI to respond to Julin’s inquiry.
Dan Christensen is the editor of Broward Bulldog. Anthony Summers is co-author with Robbyn Swan of “The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden,” published by Ballantine Books, which was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2012.
Mary Nicolini / May 9, 2014 10:49 pm
There was another family that did that too. Saw it with my own eyes.
Lucy Carpenter / January 4, 2015 8:24 pm
I think the real question here – looking back on a year of spectacular US intelligence failures, or lapses, or faulty or missed predictions, is:
Q: How can America’s allegedly premier internal intelligence / law enforcement agency ‘DISCOVER” anything related to 911, 13 YEARS later?
A: By not asking the hard questions, or doing thorough legwork, and not allowing dissenting opinions from the US intelligence community – and European and Mideast intelligence communties – not allowing our voices to be heard. Not allowing critics of their methodology to testify at ANY of the US Congressional hearings, regarding either 911 or torture or intelligence lapses; not allowing us to testify at ANY of the 911 victim trials or tort litigation, especially the trial that pitted FBI culpability vs airline culpability, or the $5B Motley Rice lawsuits … by essentially, quieting ALL DISSENTING OPINIONS, OR EARLIER WARNING VOICES, from ANYONE IN INTELLIGENCE WHO MIGHT MAKE THE FBI, OR THE OVAL OFFICE, OR THE CIA “LOOK BAD.”
FBI have traditionally been blinders-on violators of human rights, since McCarthy. They use massive teams, to do what other intelligence agencies, do with 1 or 2 agents. Or what military intel do with 1 or 2. It is a much different skillset to operate independently, or behind enemy lines, or in a field / humint capacity, where your own life and others’ lives depend on your judgment and skill and intuition; than it is to be one of a team of hundreds, or dozens, going over white collar paperwork. OR to be in a responsive / reactionary role, than a predictive, proactive or protective role.
And I think this is a great example … there should be no NEW things found, so late after a major event that the entire world was involved in investigating. But, FBI did not want any other help, after 911; they refused to listen to dissenting opinions in many cases, and they shut out critics who they felt made them “look bad.” FBI have never had the “edge” or training or been required to exercise the level of judgment that say, Mossad or German intelligence, have had to. They are not humint-oriented. And the military, which does provide humint officers/ teams, is primarily foreign-focused. The CIA, which is by statute not supposed to operate within the US, has been shrinking its own humint budgets for some time, and Porter Goss, retired from the CIA several years ago, was its last real humint leader. So America misses out on a key skillset that many other nations, which are much safer than the US, utilize – which is a field/ humint focus. And the significance of this – for us as parents, for ex, or for teens or children – is that lapses in intelligence or law enforcement, or bias in these agencies, KILL OUR CHILDREN. KILL OUR FAMILIES.
WHEN FBI MISS SOMETHING, DO NOT PREDICT OR PROTECT, IT IS NOT THEM WHO SUFFER, IT IS US. THE PUBLIC. OUR CHILDREN. OUR TEENS. OBAMA, WHEN HE DOES NOT FUND OR GUIDE CORRECTLY, DOES NOT FACE ANY RISK, OTHER THAN EMBARRASSMENT. HIS HOUSING IS WELL-GUARDED BY SECRET SERVICE. BUT OUR CHILDREN, in schools, on playgrounds, walking home, bear this risk. Or we do, as mothers. or single females do, etc.
We have no secret service protecting us. And America is so violent, much more so than Europe, that it is heading down the path of Columbia or Mexico. 911 was a huge intelligence failure, because 18 different entities failed to predict or warn.
And that failure has been consistently repeated ever since. And the sooner most families, and mothers, and leadership in the US understand and realize what such lapses mean to them, personally – to their children – the sooner the US might be forced to address such lapses. And one of these lapses is a very marked intolerance, by FBI, and other intel agencies, to hear any criticism. Or to tolerate any threat to their political boss, the Oval Office. And their very blatant sexism. FBI get more children killed each year, by not issuing amber alerts in time, or by not believing mothers about risk to their children … who are then picked up and killed by a father … than stranger kidnaps kill.
This is a very monolithic, archaic, slow, sexist, and often cruel, agency. That probably needs to be re-examined. I will always remember my brother, a humint officer buried by the US Sect of the Army, who served primarily behind enemy lines, cautioning me when we worked together on occasion, NEVER to trust anyone from the FBI. Because they get people hurt or killed.
When my 8 year old son was violently kidnapped from the DC metro area, and disappeared almost 10 years ago – witnesses could not stop crying. Were hysterical. That was a law enforcement error. But yet, no law enforcement has been prosecuted, even tho my son remains missing. And even tho it is clear from harm to the rest of the family, and violence, and witness testimony, and 10 years of silence, how badly he must have suffered, if kept alive.
So both with my son’s kidnap, and with this story – WHERE is the accountability for leadership or intelligence, or law enforcement, when they “screw up?” And “miss” something? Where is their motivation to do their absolute best? Because I do not believe any agency that prevents some witnesses from testifying, or blocks external intel voices, after an event like 911, have anyone’s best interests at heart.
Face of the US intel community / FBI:
San Diego have 600 (!) FBI … and it is still one of the most violent, unsafe, drug-ridden, weapons across the border towns, in the entire country. 600 (!) FBI are not enough to keep one little TOWN safe. Or clean.
I think the real “story” here, looking back on 2014 and all of its failures – failure to expand the torture inquiry to include offenses beyond a few flights, such as those offenses impacting women and children and families; failure by US authorities to find my own kidnapped, missing child (one of some 30,000 kidnapped children taken and not found each year, whether by a father or a stranger), after the Pentagon declared him a cold case in 2013 … – is that Americans expect so little of their intelligence community.
WE HAVE THE ABILITY IN INTEL – PARTICULARLY IN HUMINT – to keep the country much safer than it is. And that includes limiting domestic murders, hundreds of thousands of killings each year in the US. But we choose not to. Leadership CHOOSES – because it is a “choice” – to focus instead on a few narrowly defined “threats” or incidents, typically killing very few (bhengazi, isis) far far away … or to focus instead on white collar crime, and not violence. There are more Americans killed each year – if we read USDOJ’s own figures, in this country, by fellow Americans and not by terrorists, than were killed in all wars America has ever fought in, combined. More than 160,000 murders in the DC metro area, alone. More than 10,000 children killed by handguns, each year here. WHERE IS THE FBI FOR THESE CRIMES?
WHERE IS THE FBI LOOKING FOR MY CHILD? OR THE 30,000 OTHER CHILDREN NEWLY MISSING EACH YEAR? I’ll tell you where (at least some of) the FBI are … bullying Muslims, picking up Muslim students from campus for praying in public; picking up Muslims who write emails or post things online that the FBI considers “offensive” … curtailing Muslim freedom of expression. Bullying. OR … working for 2 or 3 or 4 years to conduct one raid on a casino office involved in organized porn… whilst ignoring thousands of other similar offenses, all over, because they can only move v e r y s l o w l y, like an albatross. Or dinosaur.
America does not need more dinosaurs.
America needs a very fast, forward-looking intelligence community that returns to its HUMINT / THT roots, supplemented by the best technology innovation and miniaturization in ISR / situational awareness; and much much better intuitive predictive modeling.
America is way behind its “competition” (as it calls allied intel agencies) in many key arenas and tactics. And its allies are not torturing, or developing special weapons that target only children or teens, or breeding more NBC strains that might accidentally – oops – go missing and be set loose from FLorida on a DC congress. its competition is focusing on lean / light / forward – looking innovation. And not spending NEAR the budget of Homeland and FBI put together. AND living in much safer, much less violent countries than the US has been in a long time.
My son – only 8 – was not kidnapped (killed?) by Al Queda or terrorists.
He was kidnapped – under violence so horrible that witnesses were hysterical and could not stop crying, here in the DC metro area – by AMERICANS.
IF FBI cannot control violence in their own backyard, how can they ever hope to control violence abroad?
The same with CIA, or DIA, or any of the other 18 intel agencies here in the US.
And moreover … America is conditioning itself, very dangerously, to respond only to certain types of events: they must be a) foreign, or involve a foreign element if conducted here on US soil; and b) they must be so minor, in comparison to the real violence and death rates in the US each day/month/year, that they pose no risk at all to the Oval Office. Or Congress. Oh, and c) they must be acts easily blamed on foreign powers. NOT on Americans.
I would rather have had my 8 yr old die instantly on a flight, with me by his side – the 8 children killed in 911 were with their parents – than suffer such cruelty and violence and pain and terror .. all alone. Age 8. Without me, the only parent he has ever known, there to suffer with him. To protect him.
WHERE ARE FBI FOR CRIMES LIKE THIS?
WHERE IS THE COUNTRY’S CONSCIENCE, ANY MORE, THAT IT IGNORES CRIMES LIKE THIS?
AND … WHERE IS THE COUNTRY’S COMMON SENSE, THAT AMERICANS AND THEIR LEADERSHIP AND THEIR INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITIES ARE SO CONDITIONED TO IGNORING SUCH HUGE OUT-OF-CONTROL MURDER AND VIOLENCE AND ASSAULT RATES? As if a killing does not matter, if conducted by Americans. The murder rate for the DC metro area – some 16 M people – is 1 murder per 16