What did French Intelligence Warn Us of, Before 9/11?
France's foreign intelligence service learned as early as January 2001 that al-Qaida was preparing a hijacking plot likely to involve a U.S. airplane, former intelligence officials said Monday, confirming a report that also said the CIA received the warning.Strata-Sphere examines the timeline, and thinks this might explain the inexplicable actions of Sandy Berger:
The way the government works is material is ‘drawn up’ after it has been analyzed and vetted. This puts the evidence coming out possibly early 2000. Now by coincidence this is the time frame the infamous Richard Clark document was being passed around the NSC for comment - the same document which Sandy Bergler stole from the National Archives and shredded in his office. It would make sense that whatever the French detected not only did they pass it on to Clinton’s CIA, but our CIA probably detected it too! So I would wager the smoking gun Sandy Bergler risked serious jail time to destroy was something having to do with early warnings of a Bin Laden plot to highjack airlines, sourced or confirmed by the French. I see a strong need for an investigation of how this information was processed and distributed within our government and between administrations.More from Angela Doland of AP World News
Pierre-Antoine Lorenzi, the former chief of staff for the agency's director at the time, said he remembered the note and that it mentioned only the vague outlines of a hijacking plot -- nothing that foreshadowed the scale of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.Personally, I'm not one that is into playing the "blame-game". We can point fingers all we want in a lot of directions, but I don't see it as particularly productive as we were all asleep (with a few exceptions) on the looming threat of terrorism on the grand scale of what happened on 9/11. It isn't Clinton's failure. It isn't Bush's failure. It's America's failure.
"It wasn't about a specific airline or a specific day, it was not a precise plot," Lorenzi told The Associated Press. "It was a note that said, 'They are preparing a plot to hijack an airplane, and they have cited several companies.'"
The Sept. 11 commission's report on the four hijacked flights has detailed repeated warnings about al-Qaida and its desire to attack airlines in the months before Sept. 11, 2001.
In a version declassified last September, the report shows that the Federal Aviation Administration's intelligence unit received "nearly 200 pieces of threat-related information daily from U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the FBI, CIA, and State Department."
The French warning, part of which was published in Le Monde, detailed initial rumblings about the plot.
In early 2000 in Kabul, Afghanistan, bin Laden met with Taliban leaders and members of armed groups from Chechnya and discussed the possibility of hijacking a plane that would take off from Frankfurt, Germany, the note said, citing Uzbek intelligence.
The note listed potential targets: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa. The list also included a mention of "US Aero," but it was unclear exactly what that referred to.
Two of the airlines, United and American, were targeted months later on Sept. 11.
Lorenzi said details of the threat would certainly have been passed along to the CIA, though he was unable to specifically confirm that they had been.
"That's the kind of information concerning a friendly country that we communicate," he said. "If you don't do it, it's an error."
He also stressed that officials could not say whether the plot they outlined in January 2001 was an early warning about the attacks to come in September.
At the time, Lorenzi said, officials had heard echoes only about a standard hijacking -- they had no idea al-Qaida planned to slam planes into buildings, let alone the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Uzbek officials apparently tipped off the French about the plot. Alain Chouet, a former top anti-terrorism official within the DGSE, said that an Afghan warlord from the Uzbek community who was fighting the Taliban at the time had sent men to infiltrate al-Qaida camps -- and their information was passed down the chain to Western intelligence officials.
Confirming information in Le Monde, Chouet said such intelligence was likely checked out before it was put into a note. He also said that to the best of his knowledge, "all identified threats, even indirect and minimal ones, were passed in both directions" between the CIA and the CGSE.
Still.....what the devil did Sandy Berger destroy?!? Goddammit...