The Republicans and Harry “honorary Republican for the week” Reid have been arguing that it’s terrible, awful for terrorists to be allowed into the country in order to go straight to maximum security prison. Ignoring for a second that terrorists are allowed free rein over the country as long as they’re Christian and white and therefore can’t be racially profiled, I have other problems with this.
First of all: 9/11. Terrorists didn’t just come here. They came here and hijacked planes from American airports. After this happened, Republicans panicked about immigration. Most of the 9/11 hijackers got here legally.
Then: the anthrax attacks. Not only were terrorists here but they were never even discovered. They’re probably still somewhere around. awesome.
Third: remember the freaking FLIGHT SCHOOLS?
There were al Qaeda flight schools in the United States for years, and the FBI and others had been investigating them for years. And the Republicans, who I guess care a lot about American safety, openly mocked President Bill Clinton for saying Osama bin Laden was a threat and tried to say it was a case of “Wag the Dog.” So while the president was trying to fend off terrorists from attacking us, Republicans were denying that such a threat existed.
And now we’re letting them control the message and Harry Reid is saying that we will never, ever allow terrorists on American soil. Because the Republicans are so tough and manly and THEY never did.
Last week, the F.B.I. acknowledged the existence of a memorandum written last summer in which an agent in its Phoenix office urged his superiors to investigate Middle Eastern men who had enrolled at American flight schools and who might be connected to Mr. bin Laden.
This article is really interesting for a lot of reasons. The FBI knew of this, which isn’t surprising. The government, who’s saying now that they kept us safe all this time, wasn’t prepared to keep us safe.
The Phoenix memorandum, along with the disclosure this week that President Bush was warned in August of the possibility that Al Qaeda might be planning hijackings, have been seized on by lawmakers as evidence that the government missed signals of the coming attacks.
The disclosure they’re referring to of course is the PDB titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike US” and talked about using planes. I feel so safe! And if you think that, hey, well, at least they started torturing after 9/11 which kept us safe, you should read this:
Mr. Murad, who was captured in the Philippines in 1995 and convicted in New York[…]Murad’s confession formed a basis for an analysis prepared for United States intelligence agencies in 1999. The analysis warned that bin Laden terrorists could hijack a jet and fly it into government buildings like the Pentagon.
So they found out about the threat of bin Laden not from torture but from actual investigative work and interrogations.
The article goes on to note that his confession is on video.
These flight schools were in the US as well as other countries, here’s one that trained terrorists in Florida:
Officials at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach confirmed Thursday that the FBI has sought information on Waleed Al Sheri, 25, who graduated in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science — the four-year school’s commercial pilot training degree.
The FBI is also investigating Mohamed Atta, 33, and Marwan Al Sheri, 23. Law enforcement sources said they were looking at a possible family link between Marwan and Waleed Al Sheri.
So think about that next time Republicans talk about never allowing terrorists here.
In another case, they outright admit that they suck:
(CBS) Law enforcement officials say the government kept hijacking ringleader Mohammed Atta’s roommate from entering the United States on at least four occasions but didn’t track his money transfers that led directly to the eventual hijackers.
But they added the CIA had no information before Sept. 11 linking him to terrorism.
Nonetheless, experts said Bin al-Shibh’s actions highlight the challenges in stopping future terror attacks.
His repeated failed efforts to enter the country did not trigger an investigation. And there was no effort to track his finances.
When Bin al-Shibh failed to enter, Moussaoui was sent in his place and made it into the country with $35,000 in cash and a plan to train to fly jetliners, officials say.
They found all of this out, by the way, using legal means. It was just after the fact. They used FISA warrants and monitored foreign conversations. They tracked money and wire transfers. They even found videos made by these people discussing these events.
It gets worse:
A State Department official said Wednesday there is still no mechanism, even in the aftermath of Sept. 11, to flag a foreigner who is turned down repeatedly for visas for suspicions like those that surrounded Bin al-Shibh.
Also this guy was planning on heading to a Minnesota flight school. That’s where his replacement, Moussaoui, was picked up.
This is also quite terrifying, these are the people named by intelligence officials in 2002 who were giving information to stop terrorist attacks:
Officials identified the three others as Abu Zubair, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, and a man known by his nom de guerre, Riyadh the Facilitator. Abu Zubaydah has been extensively interrogated since his capture and has provided important information, American officials say. Interrogation of others in custody have provided new insights into Al Qaeda’s structure and operations, they add.
Well with what those people are saying, I’m SURE we can prevent attacks. Or something. And nothing they’re saying is a lie and nothing our administration is saying is a lie.
Remember Cheney’s “pretty well confirmed” statement that has been mentioned over the years and was most recently reiterated during Rachel Maddow’s takedown of Cheney?
Dick Cheney: ‘Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that — it’s been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack. Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don’t know at this point, but that’s clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.’
(Meet the Press, 2001)
They add that they have not received any corroborating evidence to support an initial report from Czech intelligence that Mohamed Atta, one of the Sept. 11 hijackers, met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001. Many intelligence and law enforcement officials now say they do not believe the meeting took place.
Oh. So, didn’t happen. And remember, though most of the information that was given to the 9/11 Commission was extracted through torture – that was done specifically to GET a link – they found no link:
The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq.
But the report of the commission’s staff, based on its access to all relevant classified information, said that there had been contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda but no cooperation. In yesterday’s hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.
Despite trying really hard to manufacture a link it did not even fool the 9/11 Commission, the CIA or FBI. And this was under the guise of keeping us safe. SAFE. Really.
And they blatantly lied:
As recently as Monday, Cheney said in a speech that Hussein “had long-established ties with al Qaeda.” Bush, asked on Tuesday to verify or qualify that claim, defended it by pointing to Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has taken credit for a wave of attacks in Iraq.
Feel safer yet?
Back to the New York Times:
American officials believe the disruption has helped prevent about half a dozen — and possibly many more — Qaeda plots in the last year. Officials say that when Abu Zubaydah, Al Qaeda’s operations chief, was captured in Pakistan in March he had several plots in the works, including at least one that was imminent.
IMMINENT! Wow. We almost all died from an imminent plot. Except that it didn’t happen.
Speaking of imminent, their ineptness is apparent here:
The FBI sent the intelligence to its terrorism experts in Washington and New York for analysis and had begun discussing conducting a nationwide canvass of flight schools when the Sept. 11 tragedies occurred, officials told AP.
Law enforcement officials said in retrospect the FBI believes it should have accelerated the suggested check of U.S. flight schools after Moussaoui’s arrest but does not believe it would have led to the hijackers.
This is how bad the problem was, even though it was being ignored:
At least one hijacker on each of the four planes was trained at a U.S. flight school, Tucker said. The Times said authorities believe 27 suspected terrorists received pilot training.
Seems like a small number, I guess, but these are people who never want ANY TERRORISTS on US soil. Because that’s bad. If they’re jailed anyway. If they’re free to do whatever, we’ll just be idiots.
And then, this:
Ashcroft said numerous promising leads were being followed up. “The Department of Justice has undertaken perhaps the most massive and intensive investigation ever conducted in this country,” he said. Ashcroft said all possible federal personnel and resources have been committed to the investigation, including thousands of agents and support personnel.
Ooh! And I guess now we’ve seen the results of this investigation by the DoJ. Tortured false confessions, expansion of federal powers even when information was obtained through legal means, ineptness at almost every level, allowing some plots to go unsolved and some terrorists to go without trials – which could lead to more discovery of more information, torture and homicide and all that stuff, and whatever else we don’t know about yet.
All of that happened but none of it made anyone safer and it conclusively made it more difficult to keep America safe. And they’re worried about prisoners.