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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, â€œwere told to back off the Saudis.â€
We knew that. In the newsroom, we had a document already in hand, marked, â€œSECRETâ€ across the top and â€œâ€ – meaning this was a national security matter.
The secret memo released agents to hunt down two members of the bin Laden family operating a â€œsuspected terrorist organizationâ€ in the USA. It was dated September 13, 2001 â€” 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 â€¦ 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