Thursday, May 18, 2006

A 9/11 Bombshell (Or: Miss Miller Regrets)

Disgraced former New York Times reporter Judith Miller now says the National Security Agency had specific information that Al Qaeda was planning to hit a high-priority target in the U.S., but decided not to go with the story -- something she says she now very much regrets.


Miller, in an interview with Alternet, says that following the attack on the destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden, a high-ranking White House source leaked the NSA info, which included top-secret signals intelligence data, on Al Qaeda's plans. That was in July 2001 -- two months before the 9/11 attacks.

Said Miller:
The person told me that there was some concern about an intercept that had been picked up. The incident that had gotten everyone's attention was a conversation between two members of Al Qaida. And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole. And one Al Qaida operative was overheard saying to the other, "Don't worry; we're planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond."
Stephen Engleberg, Miller's editor at The Times and now top dog at the Portland Oregonian, also regrets not going with the story:
On September 11th, I was standing on the platform at the 125th Street station. I was with a friend, and we both saw the World Trade Center burning and saw the second one hit. "It's Al-Quida," I yelled. "What had a heads-up!"
Miller went to jail for 85 days last summer for refusing to testify before the Wilson-Plame grand jury and subsequently was dumped by The Times.

Although she never wrote a story based on the leaked NSA info, she did write others based on bogus WMDs intelligence leaked to her by White House officials anxious to back up their case for invading Iraq. She explains in the interview that one reason the Al Qaeda story never saw the light of day was because she was busy finishing a book.

It is unfortunate that Miller did not pursue the story. Maybe The Times can redeem itself with a follow-up.

But it is beyond scandalous that the Bush administration ignored or failed to act on such specific information, which in tandem with reports from FBI agents who were ignored by their superiors, made a strong case that the homeland was about to come under attack.

Meanwhile, Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, President Bush's nominee to take over the beleaguered CIA, denouncing the "endless picking apart" of the CIA's operations by the news media at his nomination hearing today.

Way to go, general. Just what the U.S. needs -- another CIA director with his head up his ass.

Among the stuff the FBI carted away when it searched the house of disgraced Kyle "Dusty" Foggo last Friday were Cuban cigars.

Last time I checked, it was against the law to possess habanos from Havana, which are considered the finest anywhere. But then Foggo is typical of the crowd that runs the government these days in his disdain for the law.

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