Matt Potter 6:30 p.m., May 5
Clarke Claims CIA Cover-Up of San Diego 9/11 Plotters
The Daily Beast is reporting that, in an interview for an upcoming documentary, ex-White House counterterrorism honcho Richard Clarke accuses ex-CIA chief George Tenet and former associates of http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/11/september-11th-anniversary-richard-clarke-s-explosive-cia-cover-up-charge.html "> hiding vital intelligence regarding the presence of two Al Qaeda terrorists in San Diego prior to the 9/11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center:
"In the interview for the documentary, Clarke offers an incendiary theory that, if true, would rewrite the history of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that the CIA intentionally withheld information from the White House and FBI in 2000 and 2001 that two Saudi-born terrorists were on U.S. soil—terrorists who went on to become suicide hijackers on 9/11.
"Clarke speculates—and readily admits he cannot prove—that the CIA withheld the information because the agency had been trying to recruit the terrorists, while they were living in Southern California under their own names, to work as CIA agents inside Al Qaeda.
"After the recruitment effort went sour, senior CIA officers continued to withhold the information from the White House for fear they would be accused of 'malfeasance and misfeasance,' Clarke suggests."
"Clarke’s theory addresses a central, enduring mystery about the 9/11 attacks— why the CIA failed for so long to tell the White House and senior officials at the FBI that the agency was aware that two Al Qaeda terrorists had arrived in the United States in January 2000, just days after attending a terrorist summit meeting in Malaysia that the CIA had secretly monitored."
"Clarke said that if his theory is correct, Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today 'even if you waterboarded them.'"
The controversy over whether federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies did enough to stop the hijackers while they were living in San Diego has long festered.
In August 2003, former FBI Special Agent in Charge Bill Gore, now San Diego county Sheriff, angrily denied charges in a congressional report that not enough was done here to monitor and intercept the pair.
"I believe the joint intelligence committee jumped to conclusions not supported by the facts of the FBI investigation," Gore told the http://articles.latimes.com/2003/aug/10/nation/na-fbi10 "> Los Angeles Times.
"I was convinced by the time I left the FBI [in] January that there was no Al Qaeda support network in San Diego prior to or after 9/11, and that no group of people wittingly helped the hijackers in furtherance of the 9/11 attacks."
The allegations were cited repeatedly by Gore's foes during his successful campaign for sheriff last year.
Tenet and his CIA associates have issued a written denial of Clarke's latest charges, saying in part, "Building on his false notion that information was intentionally withheld, Mr. Clarke went on to speculate--which he admits is based on nothing other than his imagination--that the CIA might have been trying to recruit these two future hijackers as agents.
"This, like much of what Mr. Clarke said in his interview, is utterly without foundation. Many years after testifying himself at length before the 9/11 Commission but making no mention of his wild theory, Mr. Clarke has suddenly invented baseless allegations which are belied by the record and unworthy of serious consideration."
Ray Nowosielski of FF4 Films, producer of the documentary, has emailed us to say stay tuned for more:
"We are the source for the Daily Beast/Shenon article on Clarke. The 13-minute edited interview with Richard Clarke, conducted by documentarian-journalist John Duffy and myself in Oct 2009 and provided pre-release to Phil Shenon at Daily Beast to allow their "scoop" yesterday, is now available in full at our new transparency advocacy web site:
"Also on the site you will see the wording of the original CIA statement issued to Duffy and myself on Aug 4, which Tenet/Black/Blee revised based on our email response before the Aug 10 statement they gave Phil Shenon.
"We will be releasing many govt insider interviews which support Clarke's allegations in our new NPR-style audio documentary "Who Is Rich Blee?" on 9.11.11."