|Graeme MacQueen, Founding Director of the Centre for Peace Studies (McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario) reads testimony from New York Fire Dept. firefighters:|
NYFD Asst. Commissioner Stephen Gregory:
I thought that I saw...low level flashes...I saw flash-flash-flash, and then it looked like the building came down. You know like when they blow up a building, when it falls down? That's what I thought I saw."
Firefighter Daniel Rivera:
"At first I thought it was... Do you ever see professional demolition where they set the charges on certain floors and then you hear, 'pop-pop-pop-pop-pop'? That's exactly what, because I thought it was that, when I heard that frigging noise, that's when I saw the building coming down."
NYFD Captain Karin Deshore:
Somewhere around the middle of the World Trade Center there was this orange and red flash coming out. Initially it was just one flash. Then this flash kept popping, all the way around the building, and that building had started to explode."
The New York City Fire Department, under the direction of Fire Commissioner Tom Von Essen, collected the testimony of 503 first-responder EMTs, Port Authority police, and firefighters. It came to 12,000 pages. The 9/11 Commission, run by White House appointee and insider, Philip Zelikow, rejected the testimony, just ignored it, not germane to the foregone conclusion. Also, somewhat explosive.
MacQueen's statement was drafted for the Vancouver 9/11 Conference, June 22-24, 2007. Snowshoe Documentary films
<< COMPLETE ORAL HISTORIES>
|Joint House And Senate Select Intelligence Committee|
18 September 2002
CHAIRMAN HOLDS HEARING ON 9/11 FAILURES
LOCATION: WASHINGTON, D.C.
STEPHEN PUSH, SPOUSE OF 9/11 VICTIM
KRISTIN BREITWEISER, SPOUSE OF 9/11 VICTIM
ELEANOR HILL, STAFF DIRECTOR, JOINT INQUIRY COMMITTEE
HOUSE AND SENATE JOINT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON
An excerpt from Kristin Breitweiser's testimony:
On July 5th, the government's -- July 5th, 2001 -- the government's top counter terrorism official, Richard Clarke (ph) stated to a group gathered at the White House, "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon."
The group included the FAA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, the Secret Service, and the INS. Clarke (ph) 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. For six weeks, last summer, at home and abroad, the U.S. government was at its highest possible state of readiness against imminent terrorist attack.
A senior FBI official attending the White House meeting on July 5th, 2001, 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 among other steps. But 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?"
That report, written by Agent Kenneth Williams, now well-known as the Phoenix Memo, recommended that the FBI investigate whether Al Qaida operatives were training at U.S. flight schools. Williams posited that Osama bin Laden followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots, security guards, or other personnel. He recommended a national program to track suspicious flight school students. Agent Williams was dead on point. But 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 paced 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?
On August 15th, 2001 an alert civilian instructor at a Minnesota flight school called the FBI and said, quote, "Do you realize that a 747 loaded with fuel can be a bomb?" The next day, Zacharias Moussaoui was arrested. After investigating 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.
And then what happened? The FBI office in Minnesota attempted to get a FISA warrant, but they were rebuffed, a crucial mistake, because Zacharias 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. In March, 2001, an internal debate ignited at the Justice Department and the FBI over wire-tap 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 Resnik (ph), an FBI official who coordinated the ACTS (ph) applications.
Attorney General John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller, then deputy attorney general, ordered a full review of all foreign surveillance authorizations. Again, this was in March, 2001. Justice 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 Qaida. And while senior FBI and Justice Department officials contend that the internal investigation did not affect their ability to monitor Al Qaida, other officials have acknowledged that the inquiry might have hampered electronic surveillance of terror groups. The matter remains highly classified.
What is not classified is that in early September, a Minnesota FBI agent wrote an analytic memo on Zacharias Moussaoui's case, theorizing that the suspect could fly a plane into the World Trade Center. Tragically, this too was ignored. Also ignored by U.S. intelligence agencies was the enormous amount of trading activity on the Chicago Exchange Board and in overseas markets.
BREITWEISER: Our intelligence agencies readily use PROMISE 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 Qaida was expected to occur at any given moment, and yet massive amounts of trade occurred on American Airlines, United Airlines, reinsurance companies and lease holders in the World Trade Center, and none of our watchdogs noticed.
Perhaps even more disturbing is the information regarding Khalid Al-Midhar and Nawaq Alhamzi, two of the hijackers. In late August 2001, the CIA asked the INS to put these two men on a watch list because of their ties to the bombing of the USS Cole. On August 23rd, 2001, the INS informed the CIA that both men had already slipped into this country.
Immediately thereafter, the CIA asked the FBI to find Al-Midhar and Alhamzi, 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 we have to come find out recently that an FBI informant happened to be their roommate. But again, our intelligence agencies failed.
It was only after the devastation of September 11th that our intelligence agencies seemed to get back on track. On September 12th, 2001, the New York Times reported, quote, "On Tuesday, a few hours 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 of the school's records, including photocopies of the men's passports."
The New York Times also reported that day that students at Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University said that, quote, "within hours of the attacks, FBI investigators were seen," at their school. How 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 in the case?
The New York Times went on to report on September 12th that, quote, "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 $3,000 cash employees to store employees, an airport official said."
The September 12th article goes on to state, quote, "The men then phoned Bangor Airport trying to get a flight to Boston, but were told that there was no flight that matched their desired departure time. The men then phoned Portland International Jetport, where two of them apparently made reservations for a flight to Boston on Tuesday morning."
How 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 every shadow these men on any of their prior practice runs?
Furthermore, on September 12th, the New York Times reported that, quote, "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."
How are 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 been prevented?
The 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 under way, was our nation so late in responding to the emergency that quickly unfolded that morning?
Too 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, why did the New York 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? New York/New Jersey Port Authority had at last 11 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?
Washington 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-the-loops over Washington, D.C., one hour and 45 minutes after Washington Center first knew about the hijacking. 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 that plane was then able to crash into the Pentagon? Why was the Pentagon not evacuated? Why was our Air Force so late in its response? What, if anything, did our nation do in a defensive military posture that morning?
Three thousand 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. But 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 young children with answers as to why their mother or father or aunt or uncle or grandmother or grandfather never returned from work that day. We 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 and as a nation look forward to a safe future.
BREITWEISER: 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 bullseye on the morning of 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 share in your good fate. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Ms. Breitweiser for a moving, inspirational and highly motivating statement. Thank you.
BREITWEISER: Thank you.
<< COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT >>
Kristen Breitweiser is a lawyer and one of the Jersey Girls, four women from New Jersey who were widowed when their husbands were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequently researched the policy and intelligence failures that led up to the attacks. She was a member of the Family Steering Committee, which was instrumental in bringing the 9/11 Commission into existence. She has testified before Congress and has been spoken of as a potential candidate for the United States Senate. Her account is well stated in her book, Wake-Up Call: The Political Education of a 9/11 Widow. C 2006, Breitweiser, Kristen.
Last edited by Trancer-X on Oct-30-2008 at 11:12