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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Exclusive: FBI Told Former Agent Not to Help 9/11 Victims Build Case Against Saudi Arabia | 28Pages.org

Posted by M. C. Fox on August 2, 2018

Owens, a plaintiff in the suit against Saudi Arabia, says news of the FBI’s obstructionism in her case “confirms what we’ve been suspecting all along—that the government, through three administrations, has decided that staying friends with Saudi Arabia is more important than holding accountable the sponsors of the 9/11 attacks.”

The FIB-To Serve and Protect-themselves and the state.

You and I are not in the picture.

Exclusive: FBI Told Former Agent Not to Help 9/11 Victims Build Case Against Saudi Arabia

By Brian P. McGlinchey

A retired FBI counterterrorism agent with a notable role in the story of 9/11 says the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel told him not to cooperate with attorneys representing 9/11 victims in their suit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, because it could harm U.S.-Saudi relations.

In an exclusive interview with 28Pages.org, Kenneth Williams, author of an ignored July 2001 memo warning that Osama bin Laden may be training pilots in the United States, explains why he has now decided to ignore the FBI’s instructions,and illustrates how the failure to share critical information continued into the 9/11 investigation—possibly to the benefit of the kingdom…

After being contacted by their attorneys in October of last year, Williams notified the FBI legal counsel in Phoenix, where he spent his career. Days later, he received a call from an attorney at the Office of the General Counsel whose name he does not recall.

“She said they didn’t want me to cooperate with the plaintiffs’ attorneys because it could impact other pending litigation involving the United States government…and because…the Trump administration was trying to develop good relations with the Saudi government,” he says.

At the time, the FBI general counsel was James A. Baker. He was reassigned to other duties in December 2017 and left government in May of this year. Prior to being removed as general counsel, House Republicans were reported to have investigated contacts between Baker and the media in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election…

Former Senate intelligence committee chairman Bob Graham tells 28Pages.org that the FBI’s opposition to an agent helping 9/11 victims is only the newest facet of a well-established pattern.

“I think they’ve just thrown the biggest blanket they can find over everything that has to do with the Saudi role in 9/11,” he says.

Graham offers a pointed characterization of the FBI’s decision to put the Saudi relationship ahead of 9/11 victims: “It’s a fundamental assault on the principle of democracy.”…

In July 2001, drawing on his investigations of extremists living in Arizona, Williams sent an electronic communication, or “EC,” to FBI headquarters warning that Osama bin Laden might be undertaking “a coordinated effort” to train pilots and that “these individuals will be in a position in the future to conduct terror activity against civil aviation targets.”

The document—which became known as “the Phoenix memo”—urged the FBI to develop a list of aviation schools across the nation and to contact them in search of suspicious activity.

It was ignored. Along with the CIA’s blocking of an FBI agent’s attempt to alert headquarters that a known al Qaeda terrorist—and future hijacker—had obtained a multi-entry U.S. visa, it stands among the most prominent of many examples of the government’s failure to share and act on critical information that may have thwarted the 9/11 attacks.

The 28Pages.org interview with Williams suggests the failure to share pertinent information continued into the 9/11 investigation.

For example, one of the Arizona extremists Williams investigated was Ghassan al-Sharbi, a Saudi citizen who would go on to be apprehended in Pakistan with al-Qaeda logistics man Abu Zubaydah.

In 2016, 28Pages.org was first to report on the declassification of a 9/11 Commission document that revealed that, after capturing al-Sharbi in 2002, coalition forces found his U.S. flight certificate in an envelope of the Saudi embassy in Washington.

Asked about the envelope, Williams’ reply is one of exasperation: To this writer’s surprise, he is hearing about it for the first time, much as he had recently learned other unsettling facts from the 9/11 plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“See now, here you go. You’re talking about my al-Sharbi, right? I did not know that,” says Williams, who interrogated al-Sharbi at Guantanamo without the benefit of that knowledge.

“It really does anger me. I go above just professional disagreement—it angers me. I knew that guy better than anybody in the U.S. government. I should have been included in that information,” says Williams.

Abu Zubaydah

When 28 pages on Saudi links to the 9/11 attacks were declassified in 2016, they revealed that coalition forces also retrieved Zubaydah’s telephone book, and that it held U.S. phone numbers—one of which was linked to an unlisted number associated with the Colorado mansion of the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan….more of the same…

 

“I really feel an obligation and really a spiritual obligation to help (the 9/11 victims) out, and beyond that to make right what the U.S. government might have done wrong,” he says.

As an FBI agent, Williams took an oath to defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. To that commitment, he now adds a new pledge: “I will do everything and anything I can within my area of knowledge to help the victims of 9/11.”

Be seeing you

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