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September 10, 2006 – On November 9, 2001, when you could still choke on the dust in the air near Ground Zero, BBC Television received a call in London from a top-level US intelligence agent. He was not happy. Shortly after George W. Bush took office, he told us reluctantly, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the FBI, “were told to back off the Saudis.”
We knew that. In the newsroom, we had a document already in hand, marked, “SECRET” across the top and – meaning this was a national security matter.
The secret memo released agents to hunt down two members of the bin Laden family operating a “suspected terrorist organization” in the USA. It was dated September 13, 2001 – two days too late for too many. What the memo indicates, corroborated by other sources, was that the agents had long wanted to question these characters but could not until after the attack. By that time, these bin Laden birds had flown their American nest.
Back to the high-level agent. I pressed him to tell me exactly which investigations were spiked. None of this interview dance was easy, requiring switching to untraceable …more