Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tidbits from the Archive

GMU has made available an archive of released memos pertaining to the fight against terrorism.  Here are some interesting tidbits..

From a CIA presentation on what was known about 9/11 as of June 1, 2003:
Iraqi national and suspected al Qa'ida operative Ahmad Hikmat Shakir al-Azzawi met al-Mihdhar and possibly others at the airport, where he had served as a ground staff employee assisting Arab travelers since 1999
Followed by a large chunk of redacted text. Since it was known Shakir flew back to Iraq after 9/11 and was captured by the Jordanians as a possible intelligence agent, then released back to Iraq, the CIA possibly considered a linkage of some sort as of June 2003. That doesn't mean they thought Shakir linked Iraq with the attack, only that Saddam had operatives on the ground who were aware or perhaps associated with the players.  It's also possible they were trying to keep track of what UBL was up to just as we were.  The left made a big production of saying this person was not connected to Iraq.  

Their assessment of Atta in Prague, same document:
Although we cannot rule it out, we are increasingly skeptical that Muhammad Atta met with Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) member Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samiral-Ani in Prague in April 2001. We have received conflicting reports that allege that Atta traveled to Prague and met with al-Ani, but we have no been able to verify or refute these claims.
They go on to say various claims put Atta in Prague four times between 1994 and 2001. The point here is that as of June, 2003 they were still unsure about the Atta visit in April 2001, even after the Iraq invasion. Contrast that to Rawstory's ridiculous hit piece today on Cheney, using another document from late 2001 to allege that Cheney lied about Atta in Prague.  Rawstory got the year wrong--the document referred to a 2000 visit while Cheney was mentioning the April 2001 visiit.  Second, the Czechs had not backtracked on their claims when Cheney spoke about it.  At best he stretched the known intelligence but it's clear the CIA had not debunked the story when Cheney spoke of it.  

Another morsel from this document--al-Shehhi traveled abroad several times before 9/11,
While it is known that al-Shehhi visited Atta's father during his April 2001 trip to Egypt to collect Atta's international driver's license, nothing else is known of al-Shehhi's activities while traveling outside the United States.
Interesting that we're getting this trove now, in an election year.   

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