On Oct. 15, J.M. Berger, a prolific author and researcher on extremism, made public on Intelwire a large number of previously unreleased or difficult-to-find materials related to 9/11 that were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, court records and open sources. The material includes thousands of pages of reports, communications and other primary-source documents related to the efforts of the CIA, FBI and State Department to assess and respond to the threat of terrorism in the years leading up to and following the Sept.
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As longtime Lawfare readers know, I often take a moment around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to reflect on some current issue of national security law and policy significance. I do this, in part, to mark the anniversary itself.
Whatever your political outlook, the ferment surrounding last year’s presidential election raises important, unanswered questions: What, precisely, did the Russians do, and were any Americans involved? Were members of presidential campaigns or transition teams recorded on foreign-intelligence or criminal wiretaps? If so, under what legal authority? Were their identities disseminated within the government? If so, for what purpose? And how did classified information about such wiretaps make its way into the press?
The House Intelligence Committee today released the long-classified 28 pages of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks that deal with the alleged role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks.
Well, that was a bust!
Wednesday morning’s 9/11 military commission session never gets past the opening formalities of verifying that the defendants are all present or, if not, voluntarily waiving their right to be present.
The reason? Two of our defendants—KSM and Mustafa al Hawsawi—aren’t here. It turns out there’s been a scheduling snafu. Both men have ICRC appointments today and neither wants to miss them to sit in a boring court hearing.
We do not know yet why three coordinated teams of terrorists were able to plan and execute the worst act of political violence on French soil since World War II. There are serious questions that need to be answered about why the attackers escaped detection by the French intelligence services.
Following a public hearing on Thursday morning, the military commission tasked with trying five Guantanamo detainees for their alleged roles in the 9/11 attacks went dark for back-to-back, closed 505(h) sessions on Thursday and Friday afternoons. The commission reconvened again two days later for a rare Sunday session, which was back on the record.
Fourteen years ago this coming weekend, I was standing on top of the World Trade Center. It had been a long summer at work. The Justice Department office I worked in at the time was operating at a heightened pace. A couple law school friends and I drove up to New York for Labor Day weekend 2001 on a whim, and one of our group had never seen the view. I said it was a once-in-a-lifetime must, and up we went.
Once in a lifetime, indeed.