Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 30 August 31 - September 6, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Concerning the Joint 9/11 Inquiry
would like to thank the families of the 3000 victims for allowing me to
represent them, here today, before the Joint Intelligence Committee. It is a
tremendous honor. Testifying before this committee is a privilege and an
enormous responsibility that I do not take lightly. I will do my best not to
disappoint the families or the memories of their loved ones.
that end, I ask the members present here today to find in my voice the voices of
all’ of the family members of the 3000 victims of September 11th. I would also
ask for you to see in my eyes, the eyes of the more than 10,000 children who are
now forced to grow up without the love, affection, and guidance of a mother or a
father who was tragically killed on September 11.
would now like to thank the members of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Eleanor
Hill, and her staff for giving the families this opportunity to be heard. It has
been an excruciating and overwhelming 12 months, and it is now time for our
words and our concerns to be heard by you.
three-year old daughter’s most enduring memory of her father will be placing
flowers on his empty grave. My most enduring memory of my husband, Ronald
Breitweiser, will be his final words to me, “Sweets, I’m fine, I don’t
want you to worry, I love you.” Ron uttered those words while he was watching
men and women jump to their deaths from the top of Tower One. Four minutes
later, his Tower was hit by United Flight 175. I never spoke to my. husband,
don’t really know what happened to him. I don’t know whether he jumped or he
choked to death on smoke. I don’t know whether he sat curled up in a corner
watching the carpet melt in front of him, knowing that his own death was soon to
come or if he was alive long enough to be crushed by the buildings when they
collapsed. These are the images that haunt me at night when I put my head to
rest on his pillow.
do know that the dream I had envisioned, that I so desperately needed to
believe—that he was immediately turned to ash and floated up to the heavens,
was simply not his fate. I know this because his wedding band was recovered from
ground zero with a part of his left arm. The wedding band is charred and
scratched, but still perfectly round and fully intact. I wear it on my right
hand, and it will remain there until the day I die.
11th was the devastating result of a catalogue of failures on behalf of our
government and its agencies. My husband and the approximately 3000 others like
him went to work and never came home. But, were any of our governmental agencies
doing their job on that fateful morning? Perhaps, the carnage and devastation of
September 11th speaks for itself in answering this question.
intelligence agencies suffered an utter collapse in their duties and
responsibilities leading up to and on September 11th. But, their negligence does
not stand alone. Agencies like the Port Authority, the City of NY, the FAA, the
INS, the Secret Service, NORAD, the Air Force, and the airlines also failed our
nation that morning. Perhaps, said more cogently, one singular agency’s
failures do not eclipse another’s. And it goes without saying that the
examination of the intelligence agencies by this Committee does not detract,
discount or dismantle the need for a more thorough examination of all of these
other culpable parties.
independent blue-ribbon panel would be the most appropriate means to achieve
such a thorough and expansive examination, in large part, because it would not
be limited in scope or hindered by time limits. An independent blue-ribbon panel
would provide a comprehensive, unbiased and definitive report that the
devastation of September 11th demands.
after the attacks, President Bush stated that there would come a time to look
back and examine our nation’s failures, but that such an undertaking was
inappropriate while the nation was still in shock. I would respectfully suggest
to President Bush and to our Congress that now, a full year later, it is time to
look back and investigate our failures as a nation. A hallmark of democratic
government is a willingness to admit to, analyze and learn from mistakes. And,
it is now time for our nation to triumph as the great democracy that it is.
families of the victims of September 11th have waited long enough. We need to
have answers. We need to have accountability. We need to feel safe living and
working in this great nation.
Threats as to Using Planes as Weapons
May 17th 2002, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice stated emphatically,
“I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an
airplane and slam it into The World Trade Center... that they would try to use
an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.”
historical facts illustrate differently:
In 1993, a $150,000 study was commissioned by the Pentagon to investigate the
possibility of an airplane being used to bomb national landmarks. A draft
document of this was circulated throughout the Pentagon, the Justice Department
and to FEMA.
In 1994 a disgruntled FEDEX employee invaded the cockpit of a DC- 10 with plans
to crash it into a company building in Memphis.
In 1994, a lone pilot crashed a small plane into a tree on the White House
1994, an Air France flight was hijacked by members of the Armed Islamic Group
with the intent to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower.
In January 1995, Philippine authorities investigating Abdul Murad, an Islamic
terrorist, unearthed “Project Bojinka.” Project Bojinka’s primary
objective was to blow up 11 airliners over the Pacific, and in the alternative,
several planes were to be hijacked and flown into civilian targets in the US.
Among the targets mentioned were CIA headquarters, The World Trade Center, the
Sears Tower, and the White House. Murad told US intelligence officials that he
would board any American commercial aircraft pretending to be an ordinary
passenger. And he would then hijack the aircraft, control its cockpit and dive
it at the CIA. headquarters.
In 1997, this plot re-surfaced during the trial of Ramsi Yousef—the mastermind
behind the 1993 bombings of The World Trade Center. During the trial, FBI agents
testified that “the plan targeted not only the CIA but other US government
buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon.”
In September 1999, a report, The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism,
was prepared for U.S. intelligence by the Federal Research Division, an arm of
the Library of Congress. It stated, “Suicide bombers belonging to Al Qaeda’s
Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives(c-4
and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White
laundry list of historical indicators—in no way exhaustive?illustrates that
long before September 11th the American intelligence community had a significant
amount of information about specific terrorist threats to commercial airline
travel in America, including the possibility that a plane would be used as a
to Make Warnings Public
March 11th 2002, Director of the CIA, George Tenet stated, “in broad terms
last summer that terrorists might be planning major operations in the United
States. But, we never had the texture—meaning enough information—to stop
May 8th 2002, Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller stated, “there was nothing
the agency could have done to anticipate and prevent the attacks.”
again, the historical facts indicate differently:
Throughout the spring and early summer of 2001, intelligence agencies flooded
the government with warnings of possible terrorist attacks against American
targets, including commercial aircraft, by Al Qaeda and other groups. The
warnings were vague but sufficiently alarming to prompt the FAA to issue four
information circulars, or IC’s, to the commercial airline industry between
June 22nd and July 3lst, warning of possible terrorism.
On June 22, the military’s Central and European Commands imposed “Force
Protection Condition Delta,” the highest anti-terrorist alert.
On June 28th, National security advisor Condoleeza Rice said: “It is highly
likely that a significant Al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several
As of July 3lst, the FAA urged U.S. airlines to maintain a “high degree of
One FAA circular from late July, noted according to Condoleeza Rice that there
was “no specific target, no credible info of attack to US civil-aviation
interests, but terror groups are known to be planning and training for
hijackings and we ask you therefore to use caution.”
Two counter-terrorism officials described the alerts of the early and mid-summer
2001 as “the most urgent in decades.”
thing remains clear from this history. Our intelligence agencies were acutely
aware of an impending domestic risk posed by Al Qaeda. A question that remains
unclear is how many lives could have been saved had this information been made
security officials could have gone over all the basics, again, of the steps
needed to prevent hijackings. The policy of allowing passengers to carry razors
and knives with blades of up to four inches in length certainly could have come
under scrutiny. Indeed, officials could have issued an emergency directive
prohibiting such potential weapons in carry-on bags. Finally, all selectees
under the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System (CAPPS), and their
carry-on luggage and checked bags, could have been subjected to additional
screening. Apparently, none were on September 11th, although internal FAA
documents indicate that CAPPS selected some of the hijackers.
how many victims may have thought twice before boarding an aircraft? How many
victims would have chosen to fly on private planes? How many victims may have
taken notice of these Middle-Eastern men while they were boarding their plane?
Could these men have been stopped? Going further, how many vigilant employees
would have chosen to immediately flee Tower 2 after they witnessed the blazing
inferno in Tower 1, if only they had known that an Al Qaeda terrorist attack was
the devastation of September 11 been diminished in any degree had the
government’s information been made public in the summer of 2001?
to Investigate and Share Information
July 5th, the government’s top counter-terrorism official, Richard Clarke
stated to a group gathered at the White House, “Something really spectacular
is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon.”
group included the FAA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, the Secret Service, and the
INS. Clarke directed every counter-terrorist office to cancel vacations,
defer non-vital travel, put off scheduled exercises and place domestic rapid
response teams on much shorter alert.
six weeks last summer at home and abroad, the U.S. government was at its
highest possible state of readiness and anxiety against imminent terrorist
senior FBI official attending the White House meeting on July 5th committed
the bureau to redouble contacts with its foreign counterparts and to speed up
transcription and analysis of wiretaps obtained under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA), among other steps.
when the field agent in Phoenix, Arizona, reported the suspicions of a hijacking
plot just five days later, the FBI did not share the report with any
other agency. One must ask, why?
report written by Agent Kenneth Williams, now well known as the “Phoenix
Memo,” recommended that the FBI investigate whether Al Qaeda operatives were
training at U.S. flight schools. Williams posited that Osama Bin Laden’s
followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots,
security guards or other personnel, and he recommended a national program to
track suspicious flight school students. Agent Williams was dead-on point.
in the summer of 2001, while our nation was at its highest state of alert, his
memo was flatly ignored. And, what result if it hadn’t been ignored? What if
his memo was promptly placed on INTELINK, SIPRNET, or NIPRNET? What if other
agents had the same suspicions in Florida, California, Georgia, Ohio, and
Nevada? Could the terrorists have been stopped?
August 15,2001, an alert civilian instructor at a Minnesota flight school called
the FBI and said, “Do you realize that a 747 loaded with fuel can be a
bomb?” The next day, Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested. After investigating
Zacarias Moussaoui’s past, the FBI (with the help of French Intelligence)
learned that he had Islamic extremist connections. They also knew that he was
interested in flight patterns around New York City, and that he had a strong
desire to fly big jets, even though at the time he didn’t have so much as a
license to fly a Cessna.
then, what happened?
FBI office in Minnesota attempted to get a FISA warrant, but they were rebuffed.
A crucial mistake, because Zacarias Moussaoui’s possessions contained evidence
that would have exposed key elements of the September 11th plot.
why was this request denied? Again, the historical facts must be analyzed.
March 2001, an internal debate ignited at the Justice Department and the FBI
over wiretap surveillance of certain terrorist groups. Prompted by questions
raised by Royce C. Lamberth, the Chief Judge of the FISA Court, the Justice
Department opened an inquiry into Michael Resnick an FBI official who
coordinated the Act’s applications. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Robert
Mueller (then deputy Attorney General), ordered a full review of all foreign
Department and FBI officials have since acknowledged the existence of this
internal investigation, and said that the inquiry forced officials to examine
their monitoring of several suspected terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. And
while senior FBI and Justice Department officials contend that the internal
investigation did not affect their ability to monitor Al Qaeda, other officials
have acknowledged that the inquiry might have hampered electronic surveillance
of terror groups. The matter remains highly classified.
is not classified is that in early September a Minnesota FBI agent wrote an
analytic memo on Zacarias Moussaoui’s case, theorizing that the suspect could
fly a plane into The World Trade Center. And, tragically, this, too, was
ignored by U.S. intelligence agencies was the enormous amount of trading
activity on the Chicago Exchange Board and in overseas markets. Our intelligence
agencies readily use Promis software to analyze these kinds of market indicators
that presented themselves in the weeks prior to September 11th. Why were these
aberrational trades and market swings ignored? We were at the highest state of
alert. An attack by Al Qaeda was expected to occur at any given moment. And yet,
massive amounts of trades occurred on American Airlines, United Airlines,
Re-insurance companies, and leaseholders in The World Trade Center and none of
our watchdogs noticed?
even more disturbing is the information regarding Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf
Alhazmi, two of the hijackers. in late August, the CIA asked the INS to put
these two men on a watchlist because of their ties to the bombing of the U.S.S.
Cole. On August 23, 2001, the INS informed the CIA that both men had already
slipped into the country. Immediately thereafter, the CIA asked the FBI to find
al-Midhar and Alhazmi. Not a seemingly hard task in light of the fact that one
of them was listed in the San Diego phone book, the other took out a bank
account in his own name, and finally, an FBI informant happened to be their
again, our intelligence agencies failed.
the Terrorists Already Under Surveillance?
was only after the devastation of September 11th that our intelligence agencies
seemed to get back on track.
September 12, 2001, The New York Times reported, “On Tuesday a few
hours (emphasis added) after the attacks, FBI agents descended on flight
schools, neighborhoods, and restaurants in pursuit of leads. The FBI arrived at
Huffman Aviation at about 2:30 a.m., Wednesday morning. They walked out with all
the school’s records, including photocopies of the men’s passports.”
New York Times
also reported that students at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University said that within
hours (emphasis added) of the attacks FBI investigators were seen at their
did the FBI know exactly where to go only a “few hours” after the attacks?
How did they know which neighborhoods, which flight schools, and which
restaurants to investigate so soon into the case?
New York Times
went on to report that “federal agents questioned employees at a store in
Bangor, Maine, where five Arab men believed to be the hijackers tried to rent
cell phones late last week. Store employees at first refused to sell the phones
because the men lacked proper identification, but they gave in after the five
offered $3000 cash, store employees and an airport official said.”
article goes on to state, “the men then phoned Bangor airport trying to get a
flight to Boston but were told there was no flight that matched their desired
departure time, the authorities said. The men then phoned Portland International
JetPort, where two of them apparently made reservations for a flight to Boston
on Tuesday morning.”
would this information be gleaned so quickly? How would the FBI know to visit a
store in Bangor, Maine only hours after the attacks? Moreover, how would
they know the details of a phone conversation that occurred a week prior
to the attacks? Were any of the hijackers already under surveillance? It has
been widely reported that the hijackers ran practice runs on the airline routes
that were chosen on September 11th. Did our intelligence agents ever shadow
these men on any of their prior practice runs?
on September 12th, The New York Times reported that, “authorities said
they had also identified accomplices in several cities who had helped plan and
execute Tuesday’s attacks. Officials said they knew who these people were and
important biographical details about many of them. They prepared biographies of
each identified member of the hijack teams and began tracing the recent
movements of the men.”
were complete biographies of the terrorists and their accomplices created in
such short time? Did our intelligence. agencies already have open files on these
men? Were they already investigating them? Could the attacks of September 11th
speed by which the FBI was able to locate, assimilate, and analyze a small
amount of information so soon after the attacks—barely one day later, perhaps
answers this question for itself? But, if the terrorists were under
investigation, then why were they ever permitted to board those planes? Perhaps,
even more potently, why if such an investigation was already underway, why was
our nation so late in responding to the emergency that quickly unfolded that
Many Questions Remain
many questions remain. Topping the list of unanswered questions are those that
involve our nation’s coordination, communication, and response to the attacks
that morning. The 24 hours that presented themselves on September 11th beg to be
examined. Questions like:
did the NY/NJ Port Authority not evacuate The World Trade Center when they had
an open phone line with Newark Traffic Control Center and were told that the
second plane was bearing down on the South Tower? NY/NJ Port Authority had at
least eleven minutes of notice to begin evacuations of the South Tower. An
express elevator in The World Trade Center was able to travel from top to bottom
in one minute’s time. How many lives may have been saved, had the Port
Authority acted more decisively or, rather, acted at all.
F-l6’s and Stealth bombers seen and tracked on radar screens at approximately
8:05am the morning of September 11th the vicinity of the New York metropolitan
Air Traffic Control Center knew about the first plane before it hit the World
Trade Center. Yet, the third plane was able to fly “loop de loops” over
Washington D.C. one hour and 45 minutes after Washington Center first knew about
the hijackings. After circling in this restricted airspace—controlled and
protected by the Secret Service who had an open phone line to the FAA, how is it
possible that the plane was then able to crash into the Pentagon? Why was the
Pentagon not evacuated?
was our Air Force so late in its response?
if anything, did our nation do, in a defensive military posture that morning?
innocent Americans were killed on September 11th, leaving behind families and
loved ones like myself and my daughter. There are too many heartbreaking stories
to recount. There are too many lost opportunities and futures to be told.
what can be said to you today is that the families continue to suffer each and
every day. All we have are tears and a resolve to find the answers because we
continue to look into the eyes of our young children who ask us why? We have an
obligation as parents and as a nation to provide these innocent children with
answers as to why their mother or father never returned home from work that day.
need people to be held accountable for their failures. We need leaders with the
courage to take responsibility for what went wrong. Mistakes were made and too
many lives were lost. We must investigate these errors so that they will never
happen again. It is our responsibility as a nation to turn the dark events of
September 11th into something from which we can all learn and grow, so that we,
as a nation, can look forward to a safe future.
In closing, I would like to add one thought. Undoubtedly, each of you here today, because you live and work in Washington D.C. must have felt that you were in the bull’s-eye on September 11th. For most of you, there was a relief at the end of that day; a relief that you and your loved ones were in safe hands. You were the lucky ones. In your continuing investigation, please, do not forget those of us who did not share in your good fate.
Select Committee on Intelligence