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History > 2001-2005 > USA > Terrorism





published just after the 9/11 attacks

added 9.8.2005.


















Voices of 9/11 rescuers heard at last

Emergency workers' harrowing accounts

released after legal fight

The Guardian        p. 15        13.8.2005





















publiée juste après les attentats du 11.9.2001 à New York.

Copiée dans ce site le 9.8.2005.



















Caricature publiée

juste après les attentats du 11.9.2001 à New York.

Copiée dans ce site le 21 août 2005.


Uncle Sam


















Caricature publiée

juste après les attentats du 11.9.2001 à New York.

Copiée dans ce site le 21 août 2005.


Uncle Sam

















Caricature publiée

juste après les attentats du 11.9.2001 à New York.

Copiée dans ce site le 21.8.2005.


















Monte Wolverton

Caricature publiée

juste après les attentats du 11.9.2001 à New York.

Copiée dans ce site le 21.8.2005.


















Daryl Cagle

Caricature publiée

juste après les attentats du 11.9.2001 à New York.

Copiée dans ce site le 9.8.2005.



















Paul Sahre

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother


25 December 2005















Private Lives

The Agency

That Could Be Big Brother


December 25, 2005
The New York Times


DEEP in a remote, fog-layered hollow near Sugar Grove, W.Va., hidden by fortress-like mountains, sits the country's largest eavesdropping bug. Located in a "radio quiet" zone, the station's large parabolic dishes secretly and silently sweep in millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour.

Run by the ultrasecret National Security Agency, the listening post intercepts all international communications entering the eastern United States. Another N.S.A. listening post, in Yakima,Wash., eavesdrops on the western half of the country.

A hundred miles or so north of Sugar Grove, in Washington, the N.S.A. has suddenly taken center stage in a political firestorm. The controversy over whether the president broke the law when he secretly ordered the N.S.A. to bypass a special court and conduct warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens has even provoked some Democrats to call for his impeachment.

According to John E. McLaughlin, who as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the fall of 2001 was among the first briefed on the program, this eavesdropping was the most secret operation in the entire intelligence network, complete with its own code word - which itself is secret.

Jokingly referred to as "No Such Agency," the N.S.A. was created in absolute secrecy in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman. Today, it is the largest intelligence agency. It is also the most important, providing far more insight on foreign countries than the C.I.A. and other spy organizations.

But the agency is still struggling to adjust to the war on terror, in which its job is not to monitor states, but individuals or small cells hidden all over the world. To accomplish this, the N.S.A. has developed ever more sophisticated technology that mines vast amounts of data. But this technology may be of limited use abroad. And at home, it increases pressure on the agency to bypass civil liberties and skirt formal legal channels of criminal investigation. Originally created to spy on foreign adversaries, the N.S.A. was never supposed to be turned inward. Thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who was then chairman of the select committee on intelligence, investigated the agency and came away stunned.

"That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."

He added that if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

At the time, the agency had the ability to listen to only what people said over the telephone or wrote in an occasional telegram; they had no access to private letters. But today, with people expressing their innermost thoughts in e-mail messages, exposing their medical and financial records to the Internet, and chatting constantly on cellphones, the agency virtually has the ability to get inside a person's mind.

The N.S.A.'s original target had been the Communist bloc. The agency wrapped the Soviet Union and its satellite nations in an electronic cocoon. Anytime an aircraft, ship or military unit moved, the N.S.A. would know. And from 22,300 miles in orbit, satellites with super-thin, football-field-sized antennas eavesdropped on Soviet communications and weapons signals.

Today, instead of eavesdropping on an enormous country that was always chattering and never moved, the N.S.A. is trying to find small numbers of individuals who operate in closed cells, seldom communicate electronically (and when they do, use untraceable calling cards or disposable cellphones) and are constantly traveling from country to country.

During the cold war, the agency could depend on a constant flow of American-born Russian linguists from the many universities around the country with Soviet studies programs. Now the government is forced to search ethnic communities to find people who can speak Dari, Urdu or Lingala - and also pass a security clearance that frowns on people with relatives in their, or their parents', former countries.

According to an interview last year with Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then the N.S.A.'s director, intercepting calls during the war on terrorism has become a much more complex endeavor. On Sept. 10, 2001, for example, the N.S.A. intercepted two messages. The first warned, "The match begins tomorrow," and the second said, "Tomorrow is zero hour." But even though they came from suspected Al Qaeda locations in Afghanistan, the messages were never translated until after the attack on Sept. 11, and not distributed until Sept. 12.

What made the intercepts particularly difficult, General Hayden said, was that they were not "targeted" but intercepted randomly from Afghan pay phones.

This makes identification of the caller extremely difficult and slow. "Know how many international calls are made out of Afghanistan on a given day? Thousands," General Hayden said.

Still, the N.S.A. doesn't have to go to the courts to use its electronic monitoring to snare Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. For the agency to snoop domestically on American citizens suspected of having terrorist ties, it first must to go to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA, make a showing of probable cause that the target is linked to a terrorist group, and obtain a warrant.

The court rarely turns the government down. Since it was established in 1978, the court has granted about 19,000 warrants; it has only rejected five. And even in those cases the government has the right to appeal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which in 27 years has only heard one case. And should the appeals court also reject the warrant request, the government could then appeal immediately to a closed session of the Supreme Court.

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the N.S.A. normally eavesdropped on a small number of American citizens or resident aliens, often a dozen or less, while the F.B.I., whose low-tech wiretapping was far less intrusive, requested most of the warrants from FISA.

Despite the low odds of having a request turned down, President Bush established a secret program in which the N.S.A. would bypass the FISA court and begin eavesdropping without warrant on Americans. This decision seems to have been based on a new concept of monitoring by the agency, a way, according to the administration, to effectively handle all the data and new information.

At the time, the buzzword in national security circles was data mining: digging deep into piles of information to come up with some pattern or clue to what might happen next. Rather than monitoring a dozen or so people for months at a time, as had been the practice, the decision was made to begin secretly eavesdropping on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people for just a few days or a week at a time in order to determine who posed potential threats.

Those deemed innocent would quickly be eliminated from the watch list, while those thought suspicious would be submitted to the FISA court for a warrant.

In essence, N.S.A. seemed to be on a classic fishing expedition, precisely the type of abuse the FISA court was put in place to stop.At a news conference, President Bush himself seemed to acknowledge this new tactic. "FISA is for long-term monitoring," he said. "There's a difference between detecting so we can prevent, and monitoring."

This eavesdropping is not the Bush administration's only attempt to expand the boundaries of what is legally permissible.

In 2002, it was revealed that the Pentagon had launched Total Information Awareness, a data mining program led by John Poindexter, a retired rear admiral who had served as national security adviser under Ronald Reagan and helped devise the plan to sell arms to Iran and illegally divert the proceeds to rebels in Nicaragua.

Total Information Awareness, known as T.I.A., was intended to search through vast data bases, promising to "increase the information coverage by an order-of-magnitude." According to a 2002 article in The New York Times, the program "would permit intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials to mount a vast dragnet through electronic transaction data ranging from credit card information to veterinary records, in the United States and internationally, to hunt for terrorists." After press reports, the Pentagon shut it down, and Mr. Poindexter eventually left the government.

But according to a 2004 General Accounting Office report, the Bush administration and the Pentagon continued to rely heavily on data-mining techniques. "Our survey of 128 federal departments and agencies on their use of data mining," the report said, "shows that 52 agencies are using or are planning to use data mining. These departments and agencies reported 199 data-mining efforts, of which 68 are planned and 131 are operational." Of these uses, the report continued, "the Department of Defense reported the largest number of efforts."

The administration says it needs this technology to effectively combat terrorism. But the effect on privacy has worried a number of politicians.

After he was briefed on President Bush's secret operation in 2003, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"As I reflected on the meeting today and the future we face," he wrote, "John Poindexter's T.I.A. project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance."

Senator Rockefeller sounds a lot like Senator Frank Church.

"I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge," Senator Church said. "I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."


James Bamford is the author

of "Puzzle Palace"


Body of Secrets:

Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency."

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother, NYT, 25.12.2005, https://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/






Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove,

Officials Report


December 24, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.

As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.

The government's collection and analysis of phone and Internet traffic have raised questions among some law enforcement and judicial officials familiar with the program. One issue of concern to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has reviewed some separate warrant applications growing out of the N.S.A.'s surveillance program, is whether the court has legal authority over calls outside the United States that happen to pass through American-based telephonic "switches," according to officials familiar with the matter.

"There was a lot of discussion about the switches" in conversations with the court, a Justice Department official said, referring to the gateways through which much of the communications traffic flows. "You're talking about access to such a vast amount of communications, and the question was, How do you minimize something that's on a switch that's carrying such large volumes of traffic? The court was very, very concerned about that."

Since the disclosure last week of the N.S.A.'s domestic surveillance program, President Bush and his senior aides have stressed that his executive order allowing eavesdropping without warrants was limited to the monitoring of international phone and e-mail communications involving people with known links to Al Qaeda.

What has not been publicly acknowledged is that N.S.A. technicians, besides actually eavesdropping on specific conversations, have combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might point to terrorism suspects. Some officials describe the program as a large data-mining operation.

The current and former government officials who discussed the program were granted anonymity because it remains classified.

Bush administration officials declined to comment on Friday on the technical aspects of the operation and the N.S.A.'s use of broad searches to look for clues on terrorists. Because the program is highly classified, many details of how the N.S.A. is conducting it remain unknown, and members of Congress who have pressed for a full Congressional inquiry say they are eager to learn more about the program's operational details, as well as its legality.

Officials in the government and the telecommunications industry who have knowledge of parts of the program say the N.S.A. has sought to analyze communications patterns to glean clues from details like who is calling whom, how long a phone call lasts and what time of day it is made, and the origins and destinations of phone calls and e-mail messages. Calls to and from Afghanistan, for instance, are known to have been of particular interest to the N.S.A. since the Sept. 11 attacks, the officials said.

This so-called "pattern analysis" on calls within the United States would, in many circumstances, require a court warrant if the government wanted to trace who calls whom.

The use of similar data-mining operations by the Bush administration in other contexts has raised strong objections, most notably in connection with the Total Information Awareness system, developed by the Pentagon for tracking terror suspects, and the Department of Homeland Security's Capps program for screening airline passengers. Both programs were ultimately scrapped after public outcries over possible threats to privacy and civil liberties.

But the Bush administration regards the N.S.A.'s ability to trace and analyze large volumes of data as critical to its expanded mission to detect terrorist plots before they can be carried out, officials familiar with the program say. Administration officials maintain that the system set up by Congress in 1978 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not give them the speed and flexibility to respond fully to terrorist threats at home.

A former technology manager at a major telecommunications company said that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the leading companies in the industry have been storing information on calling patterns and giving it to the federal government to aid in tracking possible terrorists.

"All that data is mined with the cooperation of the government and shared with them, and since 9/11, there's been much more active involvement in that area," said the former manager, a telecommunications expert who did not want his name or that of his former company used because of concern about revealing trade secrets.

Such information often proves just as valuable to the government as eavesdropping on the calls themselves, the former manager said.

"If they get content, that's useful to them too, but the real plum is going to be the transaction data and the traffic analysis," he said. "Massive amounts of traffic analysis information - who is calling whom, who is in Osama Bin Laden's circle of family and friends - is used to identify lines of communication that are then given closer scrutiny."

Several officials said that after President Bush's order authorizing the N.S.A. program, senior government officials arranged with officials of some of the nation's largest telecommunications companies to gain access to switches that act as gateways at the borders between the United States' communications networks and international networks. The identities of the corporations involved could not be determined.

The switches are some of the main arteries for moving voice and some Internet traffic into and out of the United States, and, with the globalization of the telecommunications industry in recent years, many international-to-international calls are also routed through such American switches.

One outside expert on communications privacy who previously worked at the N.S.A. said that to exploit its technological capabilities, the American government had in the last few years been quietly encouraging the telecommunications industry to increase the amount of international traffic that is routed through American-based switches.

The growth of that transit traffic had become a major issue for the intelligence community, officials say, because it had not been fully addressed by 1970's-era laws and regulations governing the N.S.A. Now that foreign calls were being routed through switches on American soil, some judges and law enforcement officials regarded eavesdropping on those calls as a possible violation of those decades-old restrictions, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court-approved warrants for domestic surveillance.

Historically, the American intelligence community has had close relationships with many communications and computer firms and related technical industries. But the N.S.A.'s backdoor access to major telecommunications switches on American soil with the cooperation of major corporations represents a significant expansion of the agency's operational capability, according to current and former government officials.

Phil Karn, a computer engineer and technology expert at a major West Coast telecommunications company, said access to such switches would be significant. "If the government is gaining access to the switches like this, what you're really talking about is the capability of an enormous vacuum operation to sweep up data," he said.

Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report, NYT, 24.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/politics/24spy.html






Congress Never Authorized Spying Effort,

Daschle Says


December 24, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat who was Senate majority leader at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, has disputed a central element of the administration's case for its eavesdropping program: that Congress implicitly authorized spying on Americans when it endorsed granting President Bush broad power in 2001 to combat terrorism.

In an op-ed article published Friday in The Washington Post, Mr. Daschle said he rejected a White House effort three days after the attacks to grant Mr. Bush specific authority to conduct antiterrorism operations within the United States as part of a broader resolution backing the use of force.

In seeking the specific authority for a domestic response, Mr. Daschle said, the White House was effectively acknowledging that the resolution did not cover domestic actions like spying on Americans.

"The Bush administration now argues those powers were inherently contained in the resolution adopted by Congress - but at the time, the administration clearly felt they weren't or it wouldn't have tried to insert the additional language," Mr. Daschle said in the article.

The White House has asserted that the resolution, adopted by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001, freed Mr. Bush from the requirement to get warrants to monitor international phone calls and e-mail of Americans and others in the United States. That resolution authorized the president to employ "all necessary and appropriate force" in response to the attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

But by Mr. Daschle's new account, which appears not to have been made public previously, the White House sought within minutes before the vote on the resolution to alter it to include new wording specifically granting power to carry out the antiterrorism campaign within the United States.

The White House, Mr. Daschle said, wanted the resolution to give Mr. Bush authority to use "all necessary and appropriate force in the United States and against those nations, organizations and persons" responsible for the attacks.

Mr. Daschle said he had turned aside the White House's effort to include "in the United States and" in that sentence, leaving the focus of the resolution on fighting terrorism abroad.

Asked for comment Friday, a White House spokesman provided a written statement that defended the eavesdropping program by referring to a letter the administration sent to members of Congress this week justifying the president's authority for the operation. The statement did not address Mr. Daschle's account of the deliberations over the wording of the Congressional resolution.

In an interview, Mr. Daschle said he and his staff were dealing primarily at the time with Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel and now attorney general. He said the request to add the wording authorizing activities in the United States had been made by the White House through the office of Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, who was then the minority leader.

"They presented a draft that gave the president virtually unchecked authority and the ability to do virtually anything," Mr. Daschle said in the interview. "We were dumbfounded that they were asking for the ability to take these actions" not just abroad but domestically as well.

Mr. Daschle's account suggests that the administration's effort to define the powers of the presidency expansively were well under way within days after the terrorist attacks. In the last week, both Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have defended their efforts to claim broad executive authority as necessary for national security, and have cited the 2001 resolution as one basis for their assertion that the eavesdropping program is legal.

Speaking about the program in his weekly radio address last Saturday, Mr. Bush said: "To fight the war on terror, I am using authority vested in me by Congress, including the Joint Authorization for Use of Military Force, which passed overwhelmingly in the first week after September the 11th. I'm also using constitutional authority vested in me as commander in chief."

Mr. Daschle said that in the days immediately after Sept. 11, there was "grave concern about our ability to respond quickly." But, he said, when briefed by the administration about the eavesdropping program in 2002, "I and others expressed concern."

He said his concern would have been even greater had he known the extent of the program. The description provided by the administration in 2002, he said, left him with the impression that it was more limited than recent disclosures have portrayed it.

Congress Never Authorized Spying Effort, Daschle Says, NYT, 24.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/politics/24daschle.html






FBI, without warrants,

tracks radiation at Muslim sites


Posted 12/23/2005 10:18 PM
USA Today


WASHINGTON (AP) — A classified radiation-monitoring program, conducted without warrants, has targeted private U.S. property in Seattle and other cities in an effort to prevent an al-Qaeda attack, federal law enforcement officials confirmed Friday.

While declining to provide details including the number of cities and sites monitored, the officials said the air monitoring took place since the Sept. 11 attacks and from publicly accessible areas — which they said made warrants and court orders unnecessary.

U.S. News and World Report first reported the program on Friday. The magazine said the monitoring was conducted at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area — including Maryland and Virginia suburbs — and at least five other cities when threat levels had risen: Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Seattle.

The magazine said that at its peak, three vehicles in Washington monitored 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets identified by the FBI. Targets included mosques, homes and businesses, the magazine said.

The revelation of the surveillance program came just days after The New York Times disclosed that the Bush administration spied on suspected terrorist targets in the United States without court orders. President Bush has said he approved the program to protect Americans from attack.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group, said Friday the program "comes as a complete shock to us and everyone in the Muslim community."

"This creates the appearance that Muslims are targeted simply for being Muslims. I don't think this is the message the government wants to send at this time," he said.

Hooper said his organization has serious concerns about the constitutionality of monitoring on private property without a court order.

Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, said Friday that the administration "is very concerned with a growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show al-Qaeda has a clear intention to obtain and ultimately use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear" weapons or high energy explosives.

To meet that threat, the government "monitors the air for imminent threats to health and safety," but acts only on specific information about a potential attack without targeting any individual or group, he said.

"FBI agents do not intrude across any constitutionally protected areas without the proper legal authority," the spokesman said.

In a 2001 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police must get warrants before using devices that search through walls for criminal activity. That decision struck down the use without a warrant of a heat-sensing device that led to marijuana charges against an Oregon man.

Roehrkasse said the Justice Department believes that case does not apply to air monitoring in publicly accessible areas.

Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the program is classified, said the monitoring did not occur only at Muslim-related sites.

Douglas Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, said the location of the surveillance matters when determining if a court order is needed.

"The greatest expectation of privacy is in the home," said Kmiec, a Justice Department official under former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "As you move away from the home to a parking lot or a place of public accommodation or an office, there are a set of factors that are a balancing test for the court," he said.

Despite federal promises to inform state and local officials of security concerns, that never formally happened with the radiation monitoring program, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The official said that after discussions with attorneys, some state and local authorities decided the surveillance was legal, equating it to air quality monitors set up around Washington that regularly sniff for suspicious materials.

"They weren't targeting specific people, they were just doing it by random, driving around (commercial) storage sheds and parking lots," the official said.

Asked about the program's status, the official said, "I'd understood it had been stopped or significantly rolled back" as early as eight months ago.

Such information-sharing with state and local officials is the responsibility of the Homeland Security Department, which spokesman Brian Doyle said was not involved in the program.

FBI, without warrants, tracks radiation at Muslim sites, NYT, 23.12.2005, http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-12-23-radiation_x.htm






Mosques monitored for radiation:



Fri Dec 23, 2005
4:28 PM ET


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials have secretly monitored radiation levels at Muslim sites, including mosques and private homes, since September 11, 2001 as part of a top secret program searching for nuclear bombs, U.S. News and World Report said on Friday.

The news magazine said in its online edition that the far-reaching program covered more than a hundred sites in the Washington, D.C., area and at least five other cities.

"In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program," the magazine said.

The report comes a week after revelations that the Bush administration had authorized eavesdropping on people in the United States. U.S. President George W. Bush has defended that covert program and vowed to continue the practice, saying it was vital to protect the country.

Senior U.S. officials, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, have repeatedly said Islamic militants appeared intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction for an attack against the United States.

Mueller said in February he was "very concerned with the growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show al Qaeda's clear intention to obtain and ultimately use some form of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-energy explosives material in its attacks against America."

An FBI spokesman declined to confirm or deny the U.S. News and World Report article and said, "We can't talk about a classified program."

"The FBI's overriding priority is to prevent, disrupt and defeat terrorist operations in the U.S. All investigations and operations conducted by the FBI are intelligence driven and predicated on specific information about potential criminal acts or terrorist threats, and are conducted in strict conformance with federal law," he added.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group said the report, coupled with news of the domestic eavesdropping, "could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights."

"All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens, and another diminished set of rights for Muslims," it said in a statement.

Federal officials cited by U.S. News and World Report maintained the program was legal and said warrants were not needed for the kind of radiation sampling it conducted. Officials also rejected any notion that the program specifically targeted Muslims, the magazine said.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the nuclear surveillance program began in early 2002 and has been run by the FBI and the Department of Energy's Nuclear Emergency Support Team.

At its peak, the effort involved three vehicles in the Washington area monitoring 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets such as prominent mosques and office buildings selected by the FBI, it said.

The program has also operated in at least five other cities -- namely Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle -- when threat levels there have risen, it said.

One source quoted by the magazine said the targets were almost all U.S. citizens.

Vice President Dick Cheney was among those briefed on the monitoring program, the publication said.

Mosques monitored for radiation: report, R, 23.12.2005, http://today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-12-23T212753Z_01_FOR371616_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-USA-SURVEILLANCE.xml






News of Surveillance

Is Awkward for Agency


December 22, 2005
The New York Times


Testifying before a Senate committee last April, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then head of the National Security Agency, emphasized how scrupulously the agency was protecting Americans from its electronic snooping.

"We are, I would offer, the most aggressive agency in the intelligence community when it comes to protecting U.S. privacy," General Hayden said. "We just have to be that way."

It was one of General Hayden's favorite themes in public speeches and interviews: the agency's mammoth eavesdropping network was directed at foreigners, not Americans. As a PowerPoint presentation posted on the agency's Web site puts it, for an American to be a target, "Court Order Required in the United States."

In fact, since 2002, authorized by a secret order from President Bush, the agency has intercepted the international phone calls and e-mail messages of hundreds, possibly thousands, of American citizens and others in the United States without obtaining court orders. The discrepancy between the public claims and the secret domestic eavesdropping disclosed last week have put the N.S.A., the nation's largest intelligence agency, and General Hayden, now principal deputy director of national intelligence, in an awkward position.

While a few important members of Congress were informed of the special eavesdropping program, several lawmakers have said they and the public were misled.

The episode could revive old fears that the secret agency is a sort of high-tech Big Brother. It was such fears - based on genuine abuses before the mid-1970's, hyperbolic press reports and movie myths - that General Hayden worked to counter as the agency's director from 1999 until last April.

"The image of N.S.A. has been muddied considerably by this revelation," said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian who is writing a multiple-volume history of the agency. Mr. Aid said several agency employees he spoke with on Friday were disturbed to learn of the special program, which was known to only a small number of officials.

"All the N.S.A. people I've talked to think domestic surveillance is anathema," Mr. Aid said.

An agency spokesman, Don Weber, declined to comment, saying, "We don't discuss actual or alleged operational issues."

At a news conference at the White House on Monday, General Hayden also emphasized that the program's operations had "intense oversight" by the agency's general counsel and inspector general as well as the Justice Department. He said decisions on targets were made by agency employees and required two people, including a shift supervisor, to sign off on them, recording "what created the operational imperative."

An intelligence official who was authorized to speak only on the condition of anonymity said, "It's probably the most scrutinized program at the agency." The official emphasized that people whose communications were intercepted under the special program had to have a link to Al Qaeda or a related group, even if indirectly. The official also said that only their international communications could be intercepted. Other officials have said, however, that some purely domestic communications have been captured because of the technical difficulties of determining where a phone call or e-mail message originated.

But many questions remain about the secret program, including some Mr. Aid said were raised pointedly by his contacts at the agency:

¶Did agency officials volunteer to perform the eavesdropping without warrants, or did the White House order it over agency objections?

¶Why was it not possible to use warrants, as the law appears to require, from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which granted 1,754 such warrants last year and did not deny a single application?

¶Or, if the court was considered too slow or cumbersome, why did the agency not ask Congress to adjust the law and legalize what it wanted to do?

After all, officials who have been granted anonymity in describing the program because it is classified say the agency's recent domestic eavesdropping is focused on a limited group of people. Americans come to the program's attention only if they have received a call or e-mail message from a person overseas who is already suspected to be a member of certain terrorist groups or linked somehow to a member of such groups. And the agency still gets a warrant to intercept their calls or e-mail messages to other people in the United States.

Had the agency openly sought the increased power in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "I'm sure Congress would have approved," said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel of both the N.S.A. and the Central Intelligence Agency.

By concealing the new program, she said, the N.S.A. breathed new life into the worst imaginings about itself. "This makes it seem like the movies are right about N.S.A., and they're wrong," Ms. Parker said.

For anyone familiar with the agency's history, the revelations recalled the mid-1970's, when the Senate's Church Committee and the Rockefeller Commission exposed the agency's abuse of Americans' privacy.

Under one program, called Shamrock, the agency and its predecessors for decades collected copies of all international telegrams leaving or entering the United States from the major telegraph companies. Another, code-named Minaret, kept watch lists of Americans who caught the government's interest because of activism against the Vietnam War or other political stances. Information was kept on about 75,000 Americans from 1952, when agency was created, to 1974, according to testimony.

In reaction to the abuses, Congress in 1978 passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which banned eavesdropping on Americans unless there was reason to believe they were agents of a foreign country or an international terrorist group. In such cases, N.S.A. - or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which usually takes the lead in domestic wiretaps - had to present its evidence to a judge from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which then issued a warrant.

Loch K. Johnson, an intelligence historian now teaching at Yale who served on the Church Committee staff, said the 1978 reforms were the result of lengthy bipartisan negotiations. "To pick up the paper and see that all of the carefully crafted language, across party lines, to put together FISA, has been dismissed by secret executive order is very disheartening," Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said he saw a link between the intelligence excesses of the 1970's and the N.S.A. program: fear. "Then the fear was of communism," he said. "Now it's terrorism."

Even after the overhaul of the surveillance act, the N.S.A.'s combination of secrecy, power and size continued to produce intrigue. Movies like "Enemy of the State" (1998), in which the agency is portrayed as an out-of-control surveillance operation that carries out political assassinations and destroys the life of a lawyer played by Will Smith, distorted the agency's purpose and capabilities. Exaggerated reports on an agency program called Echelon asserted that the agency and its counterparts in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia somehow intercepted all world communications.

But in real life, before the Sept. 11 attacks, N.S.A. officials, still stung by the Church Committee's findings, hewed closely to the law, according to many who worked there. "We used to say, 'Keep it simple: We don't collect against U.S. persons, and we don't do law enforcement,' " said Ms. Parker, the agency's top lawyer from 1984 to 1989.

In fact, the national commission on the 9/11 attacks criticized the agency for being too cautious about pursuing terrorists on United States soil. But by the time of the commission's report in July 2004, the eavesdropping program had been operating for roughly two years.




Secret Court to Be Briefed on Spying


By The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 - The judge who presides over the secret court that reviews surveillance requests in terrorism cases is setting up a classified briefing for the other 10 members of the court, The Washington Post reported Wednesday night.

The session, arranged by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, will address questions about the legality of the domestic eavesdropping program established by the Bush administration, The Post said.

The article said that some of the judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were concerned that information obtained through the eavesdropping program might later have been used to obtain authorization from the court for wiretaps.

News of Surveillance Is Awkward for Agency + Secret Court to Be Briefed on Spying, NYT, 22.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/22/politics/22nsa.html?fta=y






Spy Briefings

Failed to Meet Legal Test,

Lawmakers Say


December 21, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 - The limited oral briefings provided by the White House to a handful of lawmakers about the domestic eavesdropping program may not have fulfilled a legal requirement under the National Security Act that calls for such reports to be in written form, Congressional officials from both parties said on Tuesday.

The White House has refused to describe the timing and scope of the briefings, except to say that there were more than a dozen. But among the small group of current and former Congressional leaders who have attended the high-level gatherings conducted by Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House, several have described them as sessions in which aides were barred and note-taking was prohibited.

All told, no more than 14 members of Congress have been briefed about the program since it took effect in 2001, the Congressional officials said. Now lawmakers from both parties are debating whether those members-only briefings provided a sufficient basis for oversight of an activity that is only now coming under intense Congressional scrutiny.

"You can't have the administration and a select number of members alter the law," Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who heads the Judiciary Committee, said this week. "It can't be done."

Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said this week that he had received only a "single, very short briefing" on the subject this year, after taking over as his party's leader. Mr. Reid has called on Congress to review not only whether the program was authorized, but also what he called a "flawed Congressional consultation system" in which the White House maintained the upper hand.

Without a written record or the recollections of staff members to guide them, members of Congress who have attended the briefings have provided starkly different versions of what they were told at the sessions, which they said were almost invariably led by Mr. Cheney and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who as director of the National Security Agency oversaw the effort.

"When I was briefed on it, you couldn't help but conclude that it would have an impact on Americans," said Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Hoekstra said that he was first summoned to one of the sessions in August 2004, after taking over as panel chairman, and that he had attended two others since, with the other leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

But Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said his recollection from an initial briefing in late 2001 or early 2002 was that there had been no specific discussion that the program would involve eavesdropping on American citizens.

"You don't know what you don't know," Mr. Graham said, adding that he would have objected to the program had he been fully briefed on its dimensions.

Among Democrats, both Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, have said in recent days that they raised objections to the program in classified letters after first hearing about it. Mr. Rockefeller did so in July 2003, after he was first briefed about the eavesdropping effort; Ms. Pelosi has not identified the date of her objections, saying her letter remains classified.

But neither lawmaker sought to block the program legislatively, an option that Republicans who have sought to rebut the Democrats' complaints have said might well have been pursued.

"A United States senator has significant tools with which to wield power and influence over the executive branch," Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday. "Feigning helplessness is not one of those tools."

The demand for written reports was added to the National Security Act of 1947 by Congress in 2001, as part of an effort to compel the executive branch to provide more specificity and clarity in its briefings about continuing activities. President Bush signed the measure into law on Dec. 28, 2001, but only after raising an objection to the new provision, with the stipulation that he would interpret it "in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority" to withhold information for national-security or foreign-policy reasons.

A White House spokesman declined on Tuesday to say whether the administration had ever provided a written report to Congress about the eavesdropping program. Some reports have suggested that the first briefings to Congress took place in late 2001, before the law took effect.

Among other Democrats said by Congressional officials to have received at least one briefing were Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the former Senate Democratic leader; Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, the former House Democratic leader; and Representative Jane Harman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Among Republicans, the group included Senator Bill Frist, the Republican leader; Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the former Republican leader; Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; and Porter J. Goss, the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency and a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

But in interviews, Mr. Hoekstra, Mr. Graham and aides to Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Reid all said they understood that while the briefings provided by Mr. Cheney might have been accompanied by charts, they did not constitute written reports. The 2001 addition to the law requires that such reports always be in written form, and include a concise statement of facts and explanation of an activity's significance.

On Monday, Mr. Rockefeller released a copy of a classified, handwritten letter he sent to Mr. Cheney on July 17, 2003, raising objections to the program. Mr. Rockefeller has said that the rules of secrecy imposed on the briefing process left him unable to voice his concerns in public. An aide said on Tuesday that Mr. Rockefeller was "never provided with any written documentation that would qualify as formal notification" under the 1947 National Security Act.

The law requires that the executive branch notify members of Congress about continuing intelligence activities, not that it seek their consent. President Bush and other senior administration officials have argued that the briefings they provided fulfilled that legal requirement. But in interviews, some current and former members of Congress said they believe that the strict restrictions allowed lawmakers little latitude to block activities they opposed.

Spy Briefings Failed to Meet Legal Test, Lawmakers Say, NYT, 21.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/politics/21intel.html?fta=y






Bin Laden

may be unable to command:



Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:33 AM ET
By Lesley Wroughton


ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden may no longer be able to run the militant network and has not been heard from for nearly a year, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Wednesday.

Rumsfeld said on a trip to Pakistan that the Bush administration still considers it a priority to capture the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, who is believed to be hiding somewhere in the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"I think it is interesting that we haven't heard from him for close to a year," Rumsfeld told reporters en route to Islamabad.

"I don't know what it means, but I suspect in any event if he is alive and functioning that he is sending a major fraction of his time trying to avoid being caught," Rumsfeld said.

"I have trouble believing he is able to operate sufficiently to be in a position of major command over a worldwide al Qaeda operation, but I could be wrong," he said.

Rumsfeld's comments echoed earlier assessments by the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, but contradicted the assertion of al Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri in a video interview earlier this month that bin Laden's battle against the West was only just beginning.

Said Rumsfeld, "We just don't know".

The most recent al Qaeda message from bin Laden came on December 27, 2004, when Al Jazeera television broadcast a videotape in which he urged Iraqis to boycott elections the following month.

Rumsfeld's visit to Pakistan, an ally in the U.S. war on terrorism, is intended to reinforce America's support and assess U.S. relief operations after an October earthquake which killed 73,000 people. His visit comes a day after a similar trip by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

Some key al Qaeda members, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have been captured in Pakistan, and President Pervez Musharraf recently announced that a senior al Qaeda figure, Abu Hamza Rabia, had been killed in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

As the United States helps Pakistan recover from the earthquake's devastation, Rumsfeld also said it was important that the world recognize the U.S. relationships with moderate Muslim countries like Pakistan.

"I'll leave it to the historians to say what happens, but certainly as a friend and partner in this effort, we are pleased to be working side-by-side with President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani military to do whatever can be done to reduce the suffering of so many Pakistanis," he said.

    Bin Laden may be unable to command: Rumsfeld, R, 21.12.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=fundLaunches&storyID=2005-12-21T053232Z_01_KRA114630_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-BINLADEN.xml






Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls


December 21, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 - A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact "international."

Telecommunications experts say the issue points up troubling logistical questions about the program. At a time when communications networks are increasingly globalized, it is sometimes difficult even for the N.S.A. to determine whether someone is inside or outside the United States when making a cellphone call or sending an e-mail message. As a result, people that the security agency may think are outside the United States are actually on American soil.

Vice President Dick Cheney entered the debate over the legality of the program on Tuesday, casting the program as part of the administration's efforts to assert broader presidential powers. [Page A36.]

Eavesdropping on communications between two people who are both inside the United States is prohibited under Mr. Bush's order allowing some domestic surveillance.

But in at least one instance, someone using an international cellphone was thought to be outside the United States when in fact both people in the conversation were in the country. Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified, would not discuss the number of accidental intercepts, but the total is thought to represent a very small fraction of the total number of wiretaps that Mr. Bush has authorized without getting warrants. In all, officials say the program has been used to eavesdrop on as many as 500 people at any one time, with the total number of people reaching perhaps into the thousands in the last three years.

Mr. Bush and his senior aides have emphasized since the disclosure of the program's existence last week that the president's executive order applied only to cases where one party on a call or e-mail message was outside the United States.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former N.S.A. director who is now the second-ranking intelligence official in the country, was asked at a White House briefing this week whether there had been any "purely domestic" intercepts under the program.

"The authorization given to N.S.A. by the president requires that one end of these communications has to be outside the United States," General Hayden answered. "I can assure you, by the physics of the intercept, by how we actually conduct our activities, that one end of these communications are always outside the United States."

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales also emphasized that the order only applied to international communications. "People are running around saying that the United States is somehow spying on American citizens calling their neighbors," he said. "Very, very important to understand that one party to the communication has to be outside the United States."

A spokeswoman for the office of national intelligence declined comment on whether the N.S.A. had intercepted any purely domestic communications. "We'll stand by what General Hayden said in his statement," said the spokeswoman, Judy Emmel.

The Bush administration has not released the guidelines that the N.S.A. uses in determining who is suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and may be a target under the program. General Hayden said the determination was made by operational people at the agency and "must be signed off by a shift supervisor," with the process closely scrutinized by officials at the agency, the Justice Department and elsewhere.

But questions about the legal and operational oversight of the program last year prompted the administration to suspend aspects of it temporarily and put in place tighter restrictions on the procedures used to focus on suspects, said people with knowledge of the program. The judge who oversees the secret court that authorizes intelligence warrants - and which has been largely bypassed by the program - also raised concerns about aspects of the program.

The concerns led to a secret audit, which did not reveal any abuses in focusing on suspects or instances in which purely domestic communications were monitored, said officials familiar with the classified findings.

General Hayden, at this week's briefing, would not discuss many technical aspects of the program and did not answer directly when asked whether the program was used to eavesdrop on people who should not have been. But he indicated that N.S.A. operational personnel sometimes decide to stop surveillance of a suspect when the eavesdropping has not produced relevant leads on terror cases.

"We can't waste resources on targets that simply don't provide valuable information, and when we decide that is the case," the decision on whether a target is "worthwhile" is usually made in days or weeks, he said.

National security and telecommunications experts said that even if the N.S.A. seeks to adhere closely to the rules that Mr. Bush has set, the logistics of the program may make it difficult to ensure that the rules are being followed.

With roaming cellphones, internationally routed e-mail, and voice-over Internet technology, "it's often tough to find out where a call started and ended," said Robert Morris, a former senior scientist at the N.S.A. who is retired. "The N.S.A. is good at it, but it's difficult even for them. Where a call actually came from is often a mystery."

Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls, NYT, 21.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/politics/21nsa.html






F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups,

New Files Show


December 20, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.

F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general, loosened restrictions on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers, giving the bureau greater ability to visit and monitor Web sites, mosques and other public entities in developing terrorism leads. The bureau has used that authority to investigate not only groups with suspected ties to foreign terrorists, but also protest groups suspected of having links to violent or disruptive activities.

But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The documents, provided to The New York Times over the past week, came as part of a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. For more than a year, the A.C.L.U. has been seeking access to information in F.B.I. files on about 150 protest and social groups that it says may have been improperly monitored.

The F.B.I. had previously turned over a small number of documents on antiwar groups, showing the agency's interest in investigating possible anarchist or violent links in connection with antiwar protests and demonstrations in advance of the 2004 political conventions. And earlier this month, the A.C.L.U.'s Colorado chapter released similar documents involving, among other things, people protesting logging practices at a lumber industry gathering in 2002.

The latest batch of documents, parts of which the A.C.L.U. plans to release publicly on Tuesday, totals more than 2,300 pages and centers on references in internal files to a handful of groups, including PETA, the environmental group Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group, which promotes antipoverty efforts and social causes.

Many of the investigative documents turned over by the bureau are heavily edited, making it difficult or impossible to determine the full context of the references and why the F.B.I. may have been discussing events like a PETA protest. F.B.I. officials say many of the references may be much more benign than they seem to civil rights advocates, adding that the documents offer an incomplete and sometimes misleading snapshot of the bureau's activities.

"Just being referenced in an F.B.I. file is not tantamount to being the subject of an investigation," said John Miller, a spokesman for the bureau.

"The F.B.I. does not target individuals or organizations for investigation based on their political beliefs," Mr. Miller said. "Everything we do is carefully promulgated by federal law, Justice Department guidelines and the F.B.I.'s own rules."

A.C.L.U officials said the latest batch of documents released by the F.B.I. indicated the agency's interest in a broader array of activist and protest groups than they had previously thought. In light of other recent disclosures about domestic surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and military intelligence units, the A.C.L.U. said the documents reflected a pattern of overreaching by the Bush administration.

"It's clear that this administration has engaged every possible agency, from the Pentagon to N.S.A. to the F.B.I., to engage in spying on Americans," said Ann Beeson, associate legal director for the A.C.L.U.

"You look at these documents," Ms. Beeson said, "and you think, wow, we have really returned to the days of J. Edgar Hoover, when you see in F.B.I. files that they're talking about a group like the Catholic Workers league as having a communist ideology."

The documents indicate that in some cases, the F.B.I. has used employees, interns and other confidential informants within groups like PETA and Greenpeace to develop leads on potential criminal activity and has downloaded material from the groups' Web sites, in addition to monitoring their protests.

In the case of Greenpeace, which is known for highly publicized acts of civil disobedience like the boarding of cargo ships to unfurl protest banners, the files indicate that the F.B.I. investigated possible financial ties between its members and militant groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front.

These networks, which have no declared leaders and are only loosely organized, have been described by the F.B.I. in Congressional testimony as "extremist special interest groups" whose cells engage in violent or other illegal acts, making them "a serious domestic terrorist threat."

In testimony last year, John E. Lewis, deputy assistant director of the counterterrorism division, said the F.B.I. estimated that in the past 10 years such groups had engaged in more than 1,000 criminal acts causing more than $100 million in damage.

When the F.B.I. investigates evidence of possible violence or criminal disruptions at protests and other events, those investigations are routinely handled by agents within the bureau's counterterrorism division.

But the groups mentioned in the newly disclosed F.B.I. files questioned both the propriety of characterizing such investigations as related to "terrorism" and the necessity of diverting counterterrorism personnel from more pressing investigations.

"The fact that we're even mentioned in the F.B.I. files in connection with terrorism is really troubling," said Tom Wetterer, general counsel for Greenpeace. "There's no property damage or physical injury caused in our activities, and under any definition of terrorism, we'd take issue with that."

Jeff Kerr, general counsel for PETA, rejected the suggestion in some F.B.I. files that the animal rights group had financial ties to militant groups, and said he, too, was troubled by his group's inclusion in the files.

"It's shocking and it's outrageous," Mr. Kerr said. "And to me, it's an abuse of power by the F.B.I. when groups like Greenpeace and PETA are basically being punished for their social activism."

F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show, NYT, 20.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/20/politics/20fbi.html






Bush Says

He Ordered Domestic Spying


December 18, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 - President Bush acknowledged on Saturday that he had ordered the National Security Agency to conduct an electronic eavesdropping program in the United States without first obtaining warrants, and said he would continue the highly classified program because it was "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists."

In an unusual step, Mr. Bush delivered a live weekly radio address from the White House in which he defended his action as "fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities."

He also lashed out at senators, both Democrats and Republicans, who voted on Friday to block the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, which expanded the president's power to conduct surveillance, with warrants, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The revelation that Mr. Bush had secretly instructed the security agency to intercept the communications of Americans and terrorist suspects inside the United States, without first obtaining warrants from a secret court that oversees intelligence matters, was cited by several senators as a reason for their vote.

"In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment," Mr. Bush said forcefully from behind a lectern in the Roosevelt Room, next to the Oval Office. The White House invited cameras in, guaranteeing television coverage.

He said the Senate's action "endangers the lives of our citizens," and added that "the terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks," a reference to the approaching deadline of Dec. 31, when critical provisions of the current law will end.

His statement came just a day before he was scheduled to make a rare Oval Office address to the nation, at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, celebrating the Iraqi elections and describing what his press secretary on Saturday called the "path forward."

Mr. Bush's public confirmation on Saturday of the existence of one of the country's most secret intelligence programs, which had been known to only a select number of his aides, was a rare moment in his presidency. Few presidents have publicly confirmed the existence of heavily classified intelligence programs like this one.

His admission was reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower's in 1960 that he had authorized U-2 flights over the Soviet Union after Francis Gary Powers was shot down on a reconnaissance mission. At the time, President Eisenhower declared that "no one wants another Pearl Harbor," an argument Mr. Bush echoed on Saturday in defending his program as a critical component of antiterrorism efforts.

But the revelation of the domestic spying program, which the administration temporarily suspended last year because of concerns about its legality, came in a leak. Mr. Bush said the information had been "improperly provided to news organizations."

As a result of the report, he said, "our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country."

As recently as Friday, when he was interviewed by Jim Lehrer of PBS, Mr. Bush refused to confirm the report the previous evening in The New York Times that in 2002 he authorized the spying operation by the security agency, which is usually barred from intercepting domestic communications. While not denying the report, he called it "speculation" and said he did not "talk about ongoing intelligence operations."

But as the clamor over the revelation rose and Vice President Dick Cheney and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, went to Capitol Hill on Friday to answer charges that the program was an illegal assumption of presidential powers, even in a time of war, Mr. Bush and his senior aides decided to abandon that approach.

"There was an interest in saying more about it, but everyone recognized its highly classified nature," one senior administration official said, speaking on background because, he said, the White House wanted the president to be the only voice on the issue. "This is directly taking on the critics. The Democrats are now in the position of supporting our efforts to protect Americans, or defend positions that could weaken our nation's security."

Democrats saw the issue differently. "Our government must follow the laws and respect the Constitution while it protects Americans' security and liberty," said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and the Senate's leading critic of the Patriot Act.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said he would conduct hearings on why Mr. Bush took the action.

"In addition to what the president said today," Mr. Specter said, "the Judiciary Committee will be interested in its oversight capacity to learn from the attorney general or others in the Department of Justice the statutory or other legal basis for the electronic surveillance, whether there was any judicial review involved, what was the scope of the domestic intercepts, what standards were used to identify Al Qaeda or other terrorist callers, and what was done with this information."

In a statement, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said she was advised of the president's decision shortly after he made it and had "been provided with updates on several occasions."

"The Bush administration considered these briefings to be notification, not a request for approval," Ms. Pelosi said. "As is my practice whenever I am notified about such intelligence activities, I expressed my strong concerns during these briefings."

In his statement on Saturday, Mr. Bush did not address the main question directed at him by some members of Congress on Friday: why he felt it necessary to circumvent the system established under current law, which allows the president to seek emergency warrants, in secret, from the court that oversees intelligence operations. His critics said that under that law, the administration could have obtained the same information.

The president said on Saturday that he acted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks because the United States had failed to detect communications that might have tipped them off to the plot. He said that two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, "communicated while they were in the United States to other members of Al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late."

As a result, "I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations," Mr. Bush said. "This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security."

Mr. Bush said that every 45 days the program was reviewed, based on "a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland."

"I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from Al Qaeda and related groups," Mr. Bush said. He said Congressional leaders had been repeatedly briefed on the program, and that intelligence officials "receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization."

The Patriot Act vote in the Senate, a day after Mr. Bush was forced to accept an amendment sponsored by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, that places limits on interrogation techniques that can be used by C.I.A. officers and other nonmilitary personnel, was a setback to the president's assertion of broad powers. In both cases, he lost a number of Republicans along with almost all Democrats.

"This reflects a complete transformation of the debate in America over torture," said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. "After the attacks, no politician was heard expressing any questions about the executive branch's treatment of captured terrorists."

Mr. Bush's unusual radio address is part of a broader effort this weekend to regain the initiative, after weeks in which the political ground has shifted under his feet. The Oval Office speech on Sunday, a formal setting that he usually tries to avoid, is his first there since March 2003, when he informed the world that he had ordered the Iraq invasion.

White House aides say they intend for this speech to be a bookmark in the Iraq experience: As part of the planned address, Mr. Bush appears ready to at least hint at reductions in troop levels.

There are roughly 160,000 American troops in Iraq, a number that was intended to keep order for Thursday's parliamentary elections.

The American troop level was already scheduled to decline to 138,000 - what the military calls its "baseline" level - after the election.

But on Friday, as the debate in Washington swirled over the president's order, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, hinted that further reductions may be on the way.

"We're doing our assessment, and I'll make some recommendations in the coming weeks about whether I think it's prudent to go below the baseline," General Casey told reporters in Baghdad.

Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying, NYT, 18.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/politics/18bush.html






Eavesdropping Effort Began Soon

After Sept. 11 Attacks


December 18, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON - The National Security Agency first began to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mail messages between the United States and Afghanistan months before President Bush officially authorized a broader version of the agency's special domestic collection program, according to current and former government officials.

The security agency surveillance of telecommunications between the United States and Afghanistan began in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, the officials said.

The agency operation included eavesdropping on communications between Americans and other individuals in the United States and people in Afghanistan without the court-approved search warrants that are normally required for such domestic intelligence activities.

On Saturday, President Bush confirmed the existence of the security agency's domestic intelligence collection program and defended it, saying it had been instrumental in disrupting terrorist cells in America.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration and senior American intelligence officials quickly decided that existing laws and regulations restricting the government's ability to monitor American communications were too rigid to permit quick and flexible access to international calls and e-mail traffic involving terrorism suspects. Bush administration officials also believed that the intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the N.S.A., had been too risk-averse before the attacks and had missed opportunities to prevent them.

In the days after the attacks, the C.I.A. determined that Al Qaeda, which had found a haven in Afghanistan, was responsible. Congress quickly passed a resolution authorizing the president to conduct a war on terrorism, and the security agency was secretly ordered to begin conducting comprehensive coverage of all communications into and out of Afghanistan, including those to and from the United States, current and former officials said.

It could not be learned whether Mr. Bush issued a formal written order authorizing the early surveillance of communications between the United States and Afghanistan that was later superseded by the broader order. A White House spokeswoman, Maria Tamburri, declined to comment Saturday on the Afghanistan monitoring, saying she could not go beyond Mr. Bush's speech.

Current and former American intelligence and law enforcement officials who discussed the matter were granted anonymity because the intelligence-gathering program is highly classified. Some had direct knowledge of the program.

The disclosure of the security agency's warrantless eavesdropping on calls between the United States and Afghanistan sheds light on the origins of the agency's larger surveillance activities, which officials say have included monitoring the communications of as many as 500 Americans and other people inside the United States without search warrants at any one time. Several current and former officials have said that they believe the security agency operation began virtually on the fly in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The early, narrow focus on communications in and out of Afghanistan reflected the ad hoc nature of the government's initial approach to counterterrorism policies in the days after Sept. 11 attacks.

But after the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan succeeded in overthrowing the Taliban government in late 2001, Al Qaeda lost its sanctuary, and Osama bin Laden and other Qaeda leaders scattered to Pakistan, Iran and other countries. As counterterrorism operations grew, the Bush administration wanted the security agency secretly to expand its surveillance as well. By 2002, Mr. Bush gave the agency broader surveillance authority.

In the early years of the operation, there were few, if any, controls placed on the activity by anyone outside the security agency, officials say. It was not until 2004, when several officials raised concerns about its legality, that the Justice Department conducted its first audit of the operation. Security agency officials had been given the power to select the people they would single out for eavesdropping inside the United States without getting approval for each case from the White House or the Justice Department, the officials said.

While the monitoring program was conducted without court-approved warrants, senior Bush administration officials said the far-reaching decision to move ahead with the program was justified by the pressing need to identify whether any remaining "sleeper cells" were still operating within the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks and whether they were planning "follow-on attacks."

Mr. Bush, in his speech on Saturday, cited the disruptions of "terrorist cells" since Sept. 11 in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas and Ohio as evidence of a very real threat. And he pointed to overseas communications by two of the Sept. 11 hijackers who were living in the San Diego area as evidence that the security agency needed the power and flexibility to track international communications.

The two men "communicated to other members of Al Qaeda who were overseas," Mr. Bush said. "But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late."

In his speech, Mr. Bush pointed to the layers of oversight and review that are built into the secret spying program to ensure that it is "consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization."

    Eavesdropping Effort Began Soon After Sept. 11 Attacks, NYT, 18.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/18/politics/18spy.html






Rendition is not new: Powell


Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:08 PM ET


LONDON (Reuters) - Rendition, the controversial practice of moving terrorism suspects from one country to another, is not new and European governments should not be surprised by it, Colin Powell said on Saturday.

The former U.S. Secretary of State was speaking to the BBC after his successor, Condoleezza Rice was forced to defend the practice during a recent trip to Europe.

The trip was overshadowed by allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency ran secret prisons in eastern Europe and covertly transferred suspects via European airports.

"Most of our European friends cannot be shocked that this kind of thing takes place," Powell told BBC World.

"The fact that we have, over the years, had procedures in place that would deal with people who are responsible for terrorist activities, or suspected of terrorist activities.

"And so the thing that is called rendition is not something that is new or unknown to my European friends."

Rice also said rendition was a decades-old instrument used by the United States when local governments could not detain or prosecute a suspect, and traditional extradition was not an option.

In such cases, that government could make a sovereign choice to cooperate in a rendition, she said.

Powell also defended the U.S. against charges that it was unilateralist, but acknowledged it did not have a good image around the world at the moment and was going through a period where "public opinion world-wide is against us".

"I think that's a function of some of the policies we have followed in recent years with respect to Iraq and in not solving the Middle East's problem and perhaps the way in which we have communicated our views to the rest of the world," he said.

"We have created an impression that we are unilateralist, we don't care what the rest of the world thinks.

"I don't think it's a fair impression."

Rendition is not new: Powell, R, 17.12.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-12-17T230839Z_01_KNE779422_RTRUKOC_0_US-USA-POWELL-RENDITION.xml&archived=False






Bush Lets U.S.

Spy on Callers Without Courts


December 16, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 - Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

"This is really a sea change," said a former senior official who specializes in national security law. "It's almost a mainstay of this country that the N.S.A. only does foreign searches."

Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.

According to those officials and others, reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a judge presiding over a secret court that oversees intelligence matters. Some of the questions about the agency's new powers led the administration to temporarily suspend the operation last year and impose more restrictions, the officials said.

The Bush administration views the operation as necessary so that the agency can move quickly to monitor communications that may disclose threats to the United States, the officials said. Defenders of the program say it has been a critical tool in helping disrupt terrorist plots and prevent attacks inside the United States.

Administration officials are confident that existing safeguards are sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, the officials say. In some cases, they said, the Justice Department eventually seeks warrants if it wants to expand the eavesdropping to include communications confined within the United States. The officials said the administration had briefed Congressional leaders about the program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that deals with national security issues.

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.


Dealing With a New Threat

While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it say the N.S.A. eavesdrops without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands since the program began, several officials said. Overseas, about 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time, according to those officials.

Several officials said the eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. What appeared to be another Qaeda plot, involving fertilizer bomb attacks on British pubs and train stations, was exposed last year in part through the program, the officials said. But they said most people targeted for N.S.A. monitoring have never been charged with a crime, including an Iranian-American doctor in the South who came under suspicion because of what one official described as dubious ties to Osama bin Laden.

The eavesdropping program grew out of concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks that the nation's intelligence agencies were not poised to deal effectively with the new threat of Al Qaeda and that they were handcuffed by legal and bureaucratic restrictions better suited to peacetime than war, according to officials. In response, President Bush significantly eased limits on American intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the military.

But some of the administration's antiterrorism initiatives have provoked an outcry from members of Congress, watchdog groups, immigrants and others who argue that the measures erode protections for civil liberties and intrude on Americans' privacy.

Opponents have challenged provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the focus of contentious debate on Capitol Hill this week, that expand domestic surveillance by giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation more power to collect information like library lending lists or Internet use. Military and F.B.I. officials have drawn criticism for monitoring what were largely peaceful antiwar protests. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security were forced to retreat on plans to use public and private databases to hunt for possible terrorists. And last year, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's claim that those labeled "enemy combatants" were not entitled to judicial review of their open-ended detention.

Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States - including American citizens, permanent legal residents, tourists and other foreigners - is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A. operation.

The National Security Agency, which is based at Fort Meade, Md., is the nation's largest and most secretive intelligence agency, so intent on remaining out of public view that it has long been nicknamed "No Such Agency." It breaks codes and maintains listening posts around the world to eavesdrop on foreign governments, diplomats and trade negotiators as well as drug lords and terrorists. But the agency ordinarily operates under tight restrictions on any spying on Americans, even if they are overseas, or disseminating information about them.

What the agency calls a "special collection program" began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, as it looked for new tools to attack terrorism. The program accelerated in early 2002 after the Central Intelligence Agency started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, they said.

In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the Qaeda figures, the N.S.A. began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said.

Under the agency's longstanding rules, the N.S.A. can target for interception phone calls or e-mail messages on foreign soil, even if the recipients of those communications are in the United States. Usually, though, the government can only target phones and e-mail messages in the United States by first obtaining a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which holds its closed sessions at the Justice Department.

Traditionally, the F.B.I., not the N.S.A., seeks such warrants and conducts most domestic eavesdropping. Until the new program began, the N.S.A. typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions in Washington, New York and other cities, and obtained court orders to do so.

Since 2002, the agency has been conducting some warrantless eavesdropping on people in the United States who are linked, even if indirectly, to suspected terrorists through the chain of phone numbers and e-mail addresses, according to several officials who know of the operation. Under the special program, the agency monitors their international communications, the officials said. The agency, for example, can target phone calls from someone in New York to someone in Afghanistan.

Warrants are still required for eavesdropping on entirely domestic-to-domestic communications, those officials say, meaning that calls from that New Yorker to someone in California could not be monitored without first going to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court.


A White House Briefing

After the special program started, Congressional leaders from both political parties were brought to Vice President Dick Cheney's office in the White House. The leaders, who included the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, learned of the N.S.A. operation from Mr. Cheney, Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden of the Air Force, who was then the agency's director and is now a full general and the principal deputy director of national intelligence, and George J. Tenet, then the director of the C.I.A., officials said.

It is not clear how much the members of Congress were told about the presidential order and the eavesdropping program. Some of them declined to comment about the matter, while others did not return phone calls.

Later briefings were held for members of Congress as they assumed leadership roles on the intelligence committees, officials familiar with the program said. After a 2003 briefing, Senator Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who became vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee that year, wrote a letter to Mr. Cheney expressing concerns about the program, officials knowledgeable about the letter said. It could not be determined if he received a reply. Mr. Rockefeller declined to comment. Aside from the Congressional leaders, only a small group of people, including several cabinet members and officials at the N.S.A., the C.I.A. and the Justice Department, know of the program.

Some officials familiar with it say they consider warrantless eavesdropping inside the United States to be unlawful and possibly unconstitutional, amounting to an improper search. One government official involved in the operation said he privately complained to a Congressional official about his doubts about the program's legality. But nothing came of his inquiry. "People just looked the other way because they didn't want to know what was going on," he said.

A senior government official recalled that he was taken aback when he first learned of the operation. "My first reaction was, 'We're doing what?' " he said. While he said he eventually felt that adequate safeguards were put in place, he added that questions about the program's legitimacy were understandable.

Some of those who object to the operation argue that is unnecessary. By getting warrants through the foreign intelligence court, the N.S.A. and F.B.I. could eavesdrop on people inside the United States who might be tied to terrorist groups without skirting longstanding rules, they say.

The standard of proof required to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is generally considered lower than that required for a criminal warrant - intelligence officials only have to show probable cause that someone may be "an agent of a foreign power," which includes international terrorist groups - and the secret court has turned down only a small number of requests over the years. In 2004, according to the Justice Department, 1,754 warrants were approved. And the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can grant emergency approval for wiretaps within hours, officials say.

Administration officials counter that they sometimes need to move more urgently, the officials said. Those involved in the program also said that the N.S.A.'s eavesdroppers might need to start monitoring large batches of numbers all at once, and that it would be impractical to seek permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court first, according to the officials.

The N.S.A. domestic spying operation has stirred such controversy among some national security officials in part because of the agency's cautious culture and longstanding rules.

Widespread abuses - including eavesdropping on Vietnam War protesters and civil rights activists - by American intelligence agencies became public in the 1970's and led to passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which imposed strict limits on intelligence gathering on American soil. Among other things, the law required search warrants, approved by the secret F.I.S.A. court, for wiretaps in national security cases. The agency, deeply scarred by the scandals, adopted additional rules that all but ended domestic spying on its part.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, though, the United States intelligence community was criticized for being too risk-averse. The National Security Agency was even cited by the independent 9/11 Commission for adhering to self-imposed rules that were stricter than those set by federal law.


Concerns and Revisions

Several senior government officials say that when the special operation began, there were few controls on it and little formal oversight outside the N.S.A. The agency can choose its eavesdropping targets and does not have to seek approval from Justice Department or other Bush administration officials. Some agency officials wanted nothing to do with the program, apparently fearful of participating in an illegal operation, a former senior Bush administration official said. Before the 2004 election, the official said, some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president.

In mid-2004, concerns about the program expressed by national security officials, government lawyers and a judge prompted the Bush administration to suspend elements of the program and revamp it.

For the first time, the Justice Department audited the N.S.A. program, several officials said. And to provide more guidance, the Justice Department and the agency expanded and refined a checklist to follow in deciding whether probable cause existed to start monitoring someone's communications, several officials said.

A complaint from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the federal judge who oversees the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, helped spur the suspension, officials said. The judge questioned whether information obtained under the N.S.A. program was being improperly used as the basis for F.I.S.A. wiretap warrant requests from the Justice Department, according to senior government officials. While not knowing all the details of the exchange, several government lawyers said there appeared to be concerns that the Justice Department, by trying to shield the existence of the N.S.A. program, was in danger of misleading the court about the origins of the information cited to justify the warrants.

One official familiar with the episode said the judge insisted to Justice Department lawyers at one point that any material gathered under the special N.S.A. program not be used in seeking wiretap warrants from her court. Judge Kollar-Kotelly did not return calls for comment.

A related issue arose in a case in which the F.B.I. was monitoring the communications of a terrorist suspect under a F.I.S.A.-approved warrant, even though the National Security Agency was already conducting warrantless eavesdropping.

According to officials, F.B.I. surveillance of Mr. Faris, the Brooklyn Bridge plotter, was dropped for a short time because of technical problems. At the time, senior Justice Department officials worried what would happen if the N.S.A. picked up information that needed to be presented in court. The government would then either have to disclose the N.S.A. program or mislead a criminal court about how it had gotten the information.

Several national security officials say the powers granted the N.S.A. by President Bush go far beyond the expanded counterterrorism powers granted by Congress under the USA Patriot Act, which is up for renewal. The House on Wednesday approved a plan to reauthorize crucial parts of the law. But final passage has been delayed under the threat of a Senate filibuster because of concerns from both parties over possible intrusions on Americans' civil liberties and privacy.

Under the act, law enforcement and intelligence officials are still required to seek a F.I.S.A. warrant every time they want to eavesdrop within the United States. A recent agreement reached by Republican leaders and the Bush administration would modify the standard for F.B.I. wiretap warrants, requiring, for instance, a description of a specific target. Critics say the bar would remain too low to prevent abuses.

Bush administration officials argue that the civil liberties concerns are unfounded, and they say pointedly that the Patriot Act has not freed the N.S.A. to target Americans. "Nothing could be further from the truth," wrote John Yoo, a former official in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, and his co-author in a Wall Street Journal opinion article in December 2003. Mr. Yoo worked on a classified legal opinion on the N.S.A.'s domestic eavesdropping program.

At an April hearing on the Patriot Act renewal, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I., "Can the National Security Agency, the great electronic snooper, spy on the American people?"

"Generally," Mr. Mueller said, "I would say generally, they are not allowed to spy or to gather information on American citizens."

President Bush did not ask Congress to include provisions for the N.S.A. domestic surveillance program as part of the Patriot Act and has not sought any other laws to authorize the operation. Bush administration lawyers argued that such new laws were unnecessary, because they believed that the Congressional resolution on the campaign against terrorism provided ample authorization, officials said.


The Legal Line Shifts

Seeking Congressional approval was also viewed as politically risky because the proposal would be certain to face intense opposition on civil liberties grounds. The administration also feared that by publicly disclosing the existence of the operation, its usefulness in tracking terrorists would end, officials said.

The legal opinions that support the N.S.A. operation remain classified, but they appear to have followed private discussions among senior administration lawyers and other officials about the need to pursue aggressive strategies that once may have been seen as crossing a legal line, according to senior officials who participated in the discussions.

For example, just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Mr. Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer, wrote an internal memorandum that argued that the government might use "electronic surveillance techniques and equipment that are more powerful and sophisticated than those available to law enforcement agencies in order to intercept telephonic communications and observe the movement of persons but without obtaining warrants for such uses."

Mr. Yoo noted that while such actions could raise constitutional issues, in the face of devastating terrorist attacks "the government may be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties."

The next year, Justice Department lawyers disclosed their thinking on the issue of warrantless wiretaps in national security cases in a little-noticed brief in an unrelated court case. In that 2002 brief, the government said that "the Constitution vests in the President inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority."

Administration officials were also encouraged by a November 2002 appeals court decision in an unrelated matter. The decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which sided with the administration in dismantling a bureaucratic "wall" limiting cooperation between prosecutors and intelligence officers, cited "the president's inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance."

But the same court suggested that national security interests should not be grounds "to jettison the Fourth Amendment requirements" protecting the rights of Americans against undue searches. The dividing line, the court acknowledged, "is a very difficult one to administer."


Barclay Walsh contributed research for this article.

Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts, NYT, 16.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html






A Half-Century of Surveillance


December 16, 2005
The New York Times


HISTORY Created in 1952, the National Security Agency is the biggest American intelligence agency, with more than 30,000 employees at Fort Meade, Md., and listening posts around the world. Part of the Defense Department, it is the successor to the State Department's "Black Chamber" and American military eavesdropping and code-breaking operations that date to the early days of telegraph and telephone communications.

MISSION The N.S.A. runs the eavesdropping hardware of the American intelligence system, operating a huge network of satellites and listening devices around the world. Traditionally, its mission has been to gather intelligence overseas on foreign enemies by breaking codes and tapping into telephone and computer communications.

SUCCESSES Most of the agency's successes remain secret, but a few have been revealed. The agency listened to Soviet pilots and ground controllers during the shooting down of a civilian South Korean airliner in 1983; traced a disco bombing in Berlin in 1986 to Libya through diplomatic messages; and, more recently, used the identifying chips in cellphones to track terrorist suspects after the 2001 attacks.

DOMESTIC ACTIVITY The disclosure in the 1970's of widespread surveillance on political dissenters and other civil rights abuses led to restrictions at the N.S.A. and elsewhere on the use of domestic wiretaps. The N.S.A. monitors United Nations delegations and some foreign embassy lines on American soil, but is generally prohibited from listening in on the conversations of anyone inside the country without a special court order.

OFFICIAL RULES Since the reforms of the late 1970's, the N.S.A. has generally been permitted to target the communications of people on American soil only if they are believed to be "agents of a foreign power" — a foreign nation or international terrorist group — and a warrant is obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

EXPANDED ROLE Months after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush signed a secret executive order that relaxed restrictions on domestic spying by the N.S.A., according to officials with knowledge of the order. The order allows the agency to monitor without warrants the international phone calls and e-mail messages of some Americans and others inside the United States.

A Half-Century of Surveillance, NYT, 16.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16programbox.html






Patriot Act blocked in US Senate


Fri Dec 16, 2005 10:20 PM ET
By Thomas Ferraro


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of U.S. senators, demanding increased protection of civil liberties, defied President George W. Bush on Friday by blocking renewal of the USA Patriot Act, a centerpiece of his war on terrorism.

A showdown bid to end debate and move to passage of renewal legislation fell eight votes short of the needed 60 in the 100-member Senate. The vote was 52-47, with a handful of Republicans joining most Democrats in a procedural roadblock.

Bush replied, "The senators who are filibustering the Patriot Act must stop their delaying tactics so that we are not without this critical law for even a single moment."

The Patriot Act was first passed after the September 11, 2001, attacks to expand the authority of the federal government on such fronts as information sharing, obtaining private records and conducting secret searches and roving wiretaps in its effort to track down suspected terrorists.

Approved earlier this week by the House of Representatives, the renewal legislation would make permanent 14 provisions set to expire on December 31, and extend three others for four years.

Senate Democratic and Republican foes of this legislation said despite increased judicial and congressional oversight contained in it, the government would still have too much power to pry into the lives of law-abiding Americans.

But they said expiring provisions could be swiftly renewed if lawmakers agreed to better balance national security with civil liberties.



"None of us wants it to expire, and those who threaten to let it expire rather than fix it are playing a dangerous game," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

Leahy and others again offered to renew expiring provisions as now written for three months to give both sides time to resolve differences. But congressional Republicans leaders rejected it, and so did the White House.

"The president's made it very clear that he is not interested in signing any short-term renewal," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "The terrorist threats will not expire at the end of this year. They won't expire in three months. We need to move forward and pass this critical legislation."

The Senate showdown over the Patriot Act occurred as the U.S. Congress sought to wrap up its work for the year and go home for the holidays.

Fifty Republicans and two Democrats unsuccessfully voted to end debate on the renewal legislation; five Republicans, one independent and 41 Democrats blocked it.

With complaints by some conservatives as well as liberals, House and Senate negotiators agreed in a recent conference report to increase the protection of the civil liberties in the Patriot Act.

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said, "In my view, and in the view of many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the conference report still does not contain enough checks on the expanded powers."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said he may bring the renewal measure up for a vote again in coming days, and predicted it would pass if "people really understand it."

Sen. John Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican, stood by his opposition, saying, "In my state, I think there's pretty strong support for protecting civil liberties during times of war and peace."


(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria)

Patriot Act blocked in US Senate, R, 16.12.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-12-17T032021Z_01_SIB572032_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-PATRIOT.xml&archived=False






At F.B.I.,

Frustration Over Limits

on an Antiterror Law


December 11, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 - Some agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been frustrated by what they see as the Justice Department's reluctance to let them demand records and to use other far-ranging investigative measures in terrorism cases, newly disclosed e-mail messages and internal documents show.

Publicly, the debate over the law known as the USA Patriot Act has focused on concerns from civil rights advocates that the F.B.I. has gained too much power to use expanded investigative tools to go on what could amount to fishing expeditions.

But the newly disclosed e-mail messages offer a competing view, showing that, privately, some F.B.I. agents have felt hamstrung by their inability to get approval for using new powers under the Patriot Act, which was passed weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

One internal F.B.I. message, sent in October 2003, criticized the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Justice Department, which reviews and approves terrorist warrants, as regularly blocking requests from the F.B.I. to use a section of the antiterrorism law that gave the bureau broader authority to demand records from institutions like banks, Internet providers and libraries.

"While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," read the e-mail message, which was sent by an unidentified F.B.I. official. "This should be an OIPR priority!!!"

The bureau turned the e-mail messages over to the Electronic Privacy Information Center as part of a lawsuit brought by the group under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking material on the F.B.I.'s use of anti-terrorism powers. The group provided the material to The New York Times.

Congress is expected to vote early next week on a final plan for reauthorizing virtually all main parts of the law, including the F.B.I.'s broader power to demand records. President Bush, who has made renewal of the measure one of his top priorities, pushed again Saturday for Congress to act quickly.

"Since its passage after the attacks of September the 11, 2001, the Patriot Act has proved essential to fighting the war on terror and preventing our enemies from striking America again," Mr. Bush said in his radio address on Saturday.

While some Republicans and Democrats have attacked a brokered agreement reached Thursday because they said it does not go far enough in protecting civil liberties, the president hailed the agreement.

"Now Congress needs to finish the job," he said. "Both the Senate and the House need to hold a prompt vote, and send me a bill renewing the Patriot Act so I can sign it into law."

As part of the lawsuit brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a federal court has ordered the F.B.I. to turn over 1,500 pages of material to the privacy information group every two weeks.

An earlier collection of F.B.I. documents, released by the group in October, showed numerous violations of internal procedure and sometimes federal law by the bureau in its handling of surveillance and investigative matters. In some cases, for instance, agents had extended surveillance operations and investigations for months without getting required approval from supervisors.

In the most recent batch of material, an F.B.I. memorandum sent in March 2004 said the process for getting the Justice Department to improve demands for business records would be "greatly improved" because of a change in procedure allowing the bureau to "bypass" the department's intelligence office, which normally reviews all such requests.

But officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. said they were unaware of any such change in procedure and that all bureau requests for business record were still reviewed and approved by the Justice Department.

A separate e-mail message, sent in May 2004 with the subject header "Miracles," mockingly celebrated the fact that the Justice Department had approved an F.B.I. request for records under the so-called library provision.

"We got our first business record order signed today!" the message said. "It only took two and a half years."

In its latest public accounting of its use of the library provision, which falls under Section 215 of the antiterrorism law, the Justice Department said in April that it had used the law 35 times since late 2003 to gain access to information on apartment leasing, driver's licenses, financial records and other data in intelligence investigations.

But the department has said that it had never used the provision to demand records from libraries or bookstores or to get information related to medical or gun records, areas that have prompted privacy concerns and protests from civil rights advocates, conservative libertarians and other critics of the law.

Michael Kortan, a spokesman for the F.B.I., said the frustrations expressed in the internal e-mail messages "are considered personal opinions in what employees believed to be private e-mails not intended for large, public dissemination."

Mr. Kortan added that "the frustration evident in these messages demonstrates that no matter how difficult or time-consuming the process, F.B.I. special agents are held to a very high standard in complying with the necessary procedures currently in place to protect civil liberties and constitutional rights when using the legal tools appropriate for national security investigations."

A senior official at the Justice Department, who was granted anonymity because many aspects of the antiterrorism law's use are classified, echoed that theme. "For all the hand-wringing over potential abuses of the Patriot Act, what these e-mails show is that it's still fairly difficult to use these tools."

But Marcia Hofmann, who leads the electronic privacy center's government section, said the e-mail messages "raise a lot of unanswered questions" about the F.B.I.'s use of Patriot Act powers and its relations with the Justice Department. Without fuller answers, Ms. Hofmann said, a reauthorization of the law by Congress "would seem premature."

At F.B.I., Frustration Over Limits on an Antiterror Law, NYT, 11.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/






Before 9/11, Warnings on Bin Laden


December 9, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - More than three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, American diplomats warned Saudi officials that Osama bin Laden might target civilian aircraft, according to a newly declassified State Department cable.

The cable was one of two documents released Thursday by the National Security Archive, a research organization at George Washington University that obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act. The other was a memorandum written five days after the 2001 attacks by George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, to his top deputies, titled "We're at War."

The June 1998 cable reported to Washington that three American officials, the State Department's regional security officer, an economics officer and an aviation specialist had met Saudi officials at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh to pass along a warning based on an interview Mr. bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of Al Qaeda, had just given to ABC News.

They said he had threatened in the interview to strike in the next "few weeks" against "military passenger aircraft," mentioning surface-to-air missiles. The cable said there was "no specific information that indicates bin Laden is targeting civilian aircraft," but added, "We could not rule out that a terrorist might take the course of least resistance and turn to a civilian target."

Part of the Tenet memo had been reported previously in Bob Woodward's 2002 book, "Bush At War." The eight-paragraph Tenet letter was a call to arms, declaring "a worldwide war against Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations" and saying that the effort would require "our absolute and total dedication."

The 2001 document echoed an earlier memo about Al Qaeda that Mr. Tenet had sent on Dec. 4, 1998, to top C.I.A. officials and other intelligence agencies, stating: "We are at war. I want no resources or people spared in this effort." But the national 9/11 commission concluded last year that the 1998 memo had "little overall effect" on mobilizing the agencies to fight terrorism.

Before 9/11, Warnings on Bin Laden, NYT, 9.12.2005,






Fretful Passenger,

Turmoil on Jet and Fatal Shots


December 9, 2005
The New York Times


MIAMI, Dec. 8 - Lingering near his departure gate at Miami International Airport on Wednesday, Rigoberto Alpizar appeared flustered and loath to make the last, brief leg of his long journey home.

"He was standing up against the wall with his wife," said Alan Tirpak, a fellow passenger on American Airlines Flight 924 to Orlando, who spotted Mr. Alpizar next to the passageway leading to their plane around 2 p.m. "He looked agitated - had a very nervous, agitated look to him. As I walked past them, his wife told him, 'Let's let these people get on first. It will be O.K.' "

Minutes later, after the couple had found their seats at the back of the aircraft and Mr. Tirpak had settled into his seat near first class, Mr. Alpizar ran through the aisle toward the front of the plane, almost knocking over a flight attendant, "trying desperately" to get off with his wife at his heels, recalled another passenger, Natalia Cayon.

When he ignored calls from two federal marshals to stop, he was gunned down in the passageway.

The marshals said Mr. Alpizar had said he had a bomb.

Relatives said the couple had been returning from a stressful vacation. Mr. Alpizar's wife, Anne Buechner, had been robbed in Peru, losing her wallet, passport, laptop computer and cellphone, said her sister-in-law, Kelley Buechner of Milwaukee.

"That really upset Rigo," Ms. Buechner said in an interview at her home, using the family's nickname for Mr. Alpizar, a Costa Rica native who became an American citizen a few years ago. "Anne was robbed in Peru, and it was very unsettling to them both."

Mr. Tirpak, flying home from a business trip, said that as the couple waited to board Mr. Alpizar had begun singing the refrain from the old spiritual, "Let My People Go."

The Miami-Dade Police Department, which is investigating whether the shooting was justified, said it had interviewed more than 100 passengers and crew members from Flight 924 and that preliminary evidence suggested Mr. Alpizar had repeatedly refused to surrender. The White House, meanwhile, defended the actions of the air marshals.

"I don't think anyone wants to see it come to a situation like this," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman. "But these marshals appear to have acted in a way that's consistent with the extensive training that they have received. And we'll see what the investigation shows, and lessons learned from that will be applied to future training and protocol."

Chief Willie Marshall, who leads the Miami-Dade criminal investigations unit, said Mr. Alpizar had run off the plane and, while on the passageway, reached into a bag that was "strapped to his chest." That was when both air marshals opened fire with multiple shots, he said.

Chief Marshall said that homicide detectives had interviewed Ms. Buechner throughout the night and that she had told them her husband had received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder roughly a decade ago. "She provided us some very valuable information and insight about what was going on with her husband," he said. "She told us he had not taken his medication recently."

Though Chief Marshall said the couple had been on a vacation, a neighbor described it as a missionary trip and said both were frequent churchgoers.

Both marshals aboard Flight 924 were hired in 2002, said David M. Adams, a spokesman for the Federal Air Marshal Service. One was a four-year veteran of the Border Patrol and spoke fluent Spanish, he said, and the other had worked for two years as a customs inspector.

Mr. Adams said he did not know what language the air marshals had used to address Mr. Alpizar. But another marshal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because air marshals have been threatened with dismissal for speaking to the news media, said he understood that instructions had been given in both Spanish and English.

One marshal said that air marshals are typically the first to board planes, even before the disabled and travelers with young children, and that Wednesday's incident had occurred before the plane door was closed. He theorized that the marshals had probably not had a chance to observe Mr. Alpizar in the boarding lounge.

Chief Marshall would not reveal the specifics of his agency's interviews with people who were on the aircraft, including whether any had said they heard Mr. Alpizar threaten that he had a bomb. But Mark Raynor, an American Airlines pilot and local union official in Miami, said an account he heard from the plane's captain had supported law enforcement accounts of the shooting.

Mr. Raynor said the captain had been outside the cockpit at the time of the shooting and witnessed it, but the first officer had been inside the cockpit and had seen nothing.

Chief Marshall said detectives were waiting to interview the two air marshals and hoped to do so on Thursday. The marshals were placed on paid leave on Thursday, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, officials said.

Ms. Buechner returned Thursday to the white ranch home she had shared with her husband of 18 years in Maitland, outside Orlando. Relatives who had flown to Miami drove her the roughly four hours home after she had finished talking to detectives, Chief Marshall said.

Ms. Buechner did not speak to reporters who had gathered outside the home on a bleak, rainy day, but her brother, Steven Buechner of Milwaukee, and her sister, Jeanne Jentsch, of Sheboygan, Wis., emerged to read a short statement and ask the news media to leave the family alone.

"Rigo Alpizar was a loving, gentle and caring husband, uncle, brother, son and friend," Ms. Buechner said. "He was born in Costa Rica and became a proud American citizen several years ago. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him."

Kelley Buechner was more forthcoming as she talked to a reporter while drinking coffee in her Milwaukee living room, the television news droning in the background.

She said Mr. Alpizar had learned English after moving to Florida from Costa Rica. She described him as a joyous, playful man who enjoyed working in his garden and taking his niece to Disney World and the beach when she visited every summer.

"It's not the Rigo we knew," she said. "This person who you are seeing is not our Rigo."

Until now, Kelley Buechner said, she had never heard that her brother-in-law was bipolar, only that he had had "a chemical imbalance" for which he took vitamins. She said she had never known Mr. Alpizar to stop taking his medication.

If he was bipolar, she said, it was fitting of Anne Buechner not to discuss it with family. "She's the type who doesn't want to burden people with her problems," Kelley Buechner said.

Her daughter, Ciara, 11, described Mr. Alpizar as a gentle uncle whom she could not imagine hurting anyone. "If I caught lizards and accidentally killed one, he would almost be kind of sad," Ciara said of her annual visits to Florida. "He would say, 'What if that happened to you?' "


Reporting for this article was contributed byTerry Aguayo in Miami, Jeff Bailey in Chicago, Christine Blank in Maitland, Fla., Dennis Blank in Orlando and Barbara Miner in Milwaukee.

Fretful Passenger, Turmoil on Jet and Fatal Shots, NYT, 9.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/09/national/09plane.html






House and Senate

Reach Deal on Patriot Act


December 8, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON -- House and Senate negotiators on Thursday reached an agreement to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, the government's premier anti-terrorism law, before its major provisions expire at the end of the month, government aides said.

The agreement would extend for now two of the Patriot Act's most controversial provisions -- authorizing roving wiretaps and permitting secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries. Those two provisions would expire in four years under the deal.

The Republican-controlled House had been pushing for those provisions to stay in effect as long as a decade, but negotiators decided to go with the GOP-controlled Senate's suggestion. Republican and Democratic Senate aides confirmed the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not yet been made.

An official announcement was expected Thursday morning by Senate Judiciary chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa. Top Judiciary Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont has not yet decided whether to support the agreement, a spokesman said.

But the GOP-majority negotiating committee has enough votes to send the House and Senate the compromise if all of the Republican negotiators agree to it.

The House and Senate then would have to pass the compromise before the Patriot Act provisions expire on Dec. 31.

The compromise also makes changes to national security letters, an investigative tool used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information without a court order or grand jury subpoena.

Under the agreement, the reauthorization specifies that an NSL can be reviewed by a court, and explicitly allows the subjects of national security letters to inform their lawyers that they have received them.

The Bush administration contends that such consultation already is allowed, citing at least two court challenges to NSLs. However, in a letter obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act and posted on its Web site, the FBI prohibits the recipient "from disclosing to any person that the FBI has sought or obtained access to information or records under these provisions."

House and Senate Reach Deal on Patriot Act, NYT, 8.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Patriot-Act.html






Air Marshals

Shoot and Kill Passenger

in Bomb Threat


December 8, 2005
The New York Times


MIAMI, Dec. 7 - Federal air marshals shot and killed a passenger at Miami International Airport on Wednesday after the man claimed he had a bomb in his backpack and ran from an aircraft, officials said.

The incident - the first case of an air marshal opening fire since marshals became a common presence on flights after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - prompted dozens of heavily armed police officers to surround the plane.

Luggage from the flight was laid out on the runway, and at least two bags were exploded by a bomb squad.

But the man, Rigoberto Alpizar, an American citizen from Maitland, Fla., was found to have no bomb. One passenger on the flight told a local television station that Mr. Alpizar's wife had tried to follow her husband as he ran off the plane, saying he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication.

Law enforcement officials refused to answer questions about Mr. Alpizar's mental state or his wife.

At a news conference, James Bauer, the special agent in charge of federal air marshals in Miami, said other federal air marshals had been deployed at airports throughout the country "in a surveillance mode to see if in fact other events are unfolding back to this isolated event."

But he added, there was no sign of any problem. "There is no reason to believe right now that there is any nexus to terrorism," he said, "or indeed that any other events are associated with this one."

Mr. Bauer defended the decision to shoot Mr. Alpizar, saying the air marshals were following protocol and had been trained to shoot when they perceived a serious threat.

"All of that will be parsed out," he said, refusing to comment further.

Mr. Alpizar had arrived in Miami around noon on an American Airlines flight from Quito, Ecuador, according to Rick Thomas, the federal security director at the airport.

Mr. Alpizar and his wife had boarded American Airlines Flight 924 to Orlando around 2 p.m. and the plane was waiting to taxi when Mr. Alpizar, 44, "uttered threatening words that included a sentence to the effect that he had a bomb," Mr. Bauer said.

Two air marshals aboard the flight confronted Mr. Alpizar, who then ran from the Boeing 757 and onto the jetway connecting it to the airport concourse. The marshals followed and ordered him to the ground, said Brian Doyle, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

"He then appeared to be reaching into a carry-on bag, and the air marshals proceeded consistent with their training," Mr. Doyle said. "Shots were fired as the team attempted to subdue the individual."

Mr. Bauer said that members of the Miami-Dade Police Department's bomb squad detonated Mr. Alpizar's luggage on the tarmac and that it contained no explosives. Dogs sniffed luggage that had been loaded onto the plane but found nothing.

One passenger on the flight, Mary Gardner, told a local television station that Mr. Alpizar's wife had said he was bipolar and had not taken his medication. Ms. Gardner told WTVJ-TV in Miami that Mr. Alpizar had suddenly run down the aisle from the back of the plane toward first class and that his wife had followed.

"She ran after him, and all of a sudden there were four or five shots," Ms. Gardner said. She added that the police boarded the plane afterward and told the passengers to put their hands on their heads.

Ms. Gardner also told WTVJ that just before the incident, Mr. Alpizar's wife had gotten a phone call and briefly left the plane acting "frantic."

Jamie Clifford, who was preparing to board a flight to San Francisco when the incident occurred near her departure gate, said the shooting sounded like "a bunch of soda cans falling on the floor." The flight, which had originated in Medellín, Colombia, was canceled. The concourse, one of eight at Miami International, was shut down for about half an hour.

The last of the passengers were allowed to leave the Miami airport about 11 p.m.

An F.B.I. spokeswoman, Judy Orihuelah, said, "Obviously we would have to go through all of the passengers and say, 'Did you see anything?' " Ms. Orihuelah added that anyone who responded that they had seen something was interviewed more extensively.

"None of the other 113 passengers onboard were affected or were ever in any danger," American Airlines said in a statement. "This was an isolated incident."

While there were only about 30 federal air marshals at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, their numbers grew sharply afterward under sweeping new antiterrorism measures. One air marshal hired after Sept. 11, who asked not to be named because he said marshals are forbidden to talk to reporters, said that their rules for use of force were "basically same as any other law enforcement officer."

"When something threatens passenger, crew or safety of the airplane, you take whatever steps are necessary to protect yourself," he said. "If they were telling the guy not to reach in the bag, as soon as the guy reached in the bag, that's a situation that necessitates the use of deadly force."

An analysis this year by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group in Virginia, found that mentally ill people were four times more likely than members of the general public to be killed by the police.

Natalia Cayon, 16, was on the plane and continued her trip to Orlando. Ms. Cayon, who was traveling from Colombia, said everybody got down on the floor after the shots were fired. She said she was crying, as were many of the other passengers.

After the shooting, Ms. Cayon said, the passengers stayed on the plane for about an hour. When they were allowed off, they went into the terminal through a private entrance.

In Maitland, a middle-class suburb of Orlando, neighbors of Mr. Alpizar described him as quiet and friendly and said he never acted erratically. The one-story home he shared with his wife, Anne Buechner, was white brick with a red door and shutters and a Christmas wreath.

One neighbor, Louis Gunther, said Ms. Buechner was a social worker and that Mr. Alpizar had worked at a Home Depot in Orlando. He said the couple had gone out of town to work with a church group. Ms. Buechner works for the Council on Quality and Leadership, a national advocacy group for the disabled and mentally ill, according to the group's Web site.

Janice Tweedie, a widow who knew the couple, said Mr. Alpizar used to help her in her yard and share electricity with her during hurricanes. She called the shooting "a huge mistake," but added, "I know how very careful we have to be."


Abby Goodnough reported from Miami for this article, and Matthew L. Wald from Washington. Terry Aguayo and Andrea Zarate contributed reporting from Miami;Christine Blank from Maitland, Fla.; and Dennis Blank from Orlando, Fla.

Air Marshals Shoot and Kill Passenger in Bomb Threat, NYT, 8.12.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/08/national/08plane.html







Some facts about U.S. air marshals


Wed Dec 7, 2005 5:30 PM ET


(Reuters) - An American Airlines passenger who claimed to be carrying a bomb was shot and killed by an air marshal while trying to flee a plane arriving from Medellin, Colombia, at Miami International Airport on Wednesday, U.S. officials said.

Here are five facts about U.S. air marshals:


* Armed U.S. air marshals disguised as passengers are deployed on thousands of U.S. airline flights each week in an effort to prevent another day like September 11, 2001, when hijackers took control of four U.S. passenger planes and slammed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.


* On September 11, 2001, there were 33 air marshals. In the months that followed, after President George W. Bush ordered an expansion in the program, the service received 197,000 applications.


* The exact number of marshals today is classified, but air marshal officials have said it was in the thousands.


* Air marshals have very tough accuracy requirements -- the standard for marksmanship is higher than the Secret Service. They shoot SIG SAUER pistols, use hollow-point bullets and follow very strict rules of engagement.


* In December 2003 the U.S. government ordered foreign airlines to place armed marshals on selected flights to and from the United States to further boost security on aircraft flying to, from and over the United States.


(Reporting by Deborah Charles and Paul Grant in Washington)

FACTBOX-Some facts about U.S. air marshals, R, 7.12.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=fundLaunches&storyID=2005-12-07T223017Z_01_KNE780993_RTRUKOT_0_TEXT0.xml&related=true


















Kayla Bergeron, left,

and Patty Clark walked together to safety on 9/11.


Shannon Stapleton/Reuters


Survivors Begin Effort to Save

Stairway That Was 9/11 'Path to Freedom'

NYT        25.11.2005


















Patty Clark, left, and Kayla Bergeron,

revisiting the Vesey Street stairway at ground zero on Nov. 17.


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times


Survivors Begin Effort to Save Stairway That Was 9/11 'Path to Freedom'

NYT        25.11.2005














Survivors Begin Effort to Save

Stairway That Was 9/11 'Path to Freedom'


November 25, 2005
The New York Times


These were the final steps.

After hundreds of workers made a terrifying floor-by-floor descent from their offices in the sky on 9/11, as the twin towers shuddered and rained ruin, they found a gangway to safety from the elevated plaza down the Vesey Street stairs.

"They were the path to freedom," recalled Kayla Bergeron, the chief of public and government affairs for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Her own 68-story journey ended as she walked down that staircase with Patty Clark, a senior aviation adviser at the authority, hand in hand for the last few yards to Vesey Street.

These are the final steps in another sense. The Vesey Street staircase, also called the "survivors' stairway," is the World Trade Center's last above-ground remnant.

It escapes much public attention because, from the street, it is almost unrecognizable.

Closer up, however, two flights of stairs come into view, next to what looks like a concrete slide but was once the base of an escalator. The upper steps still have their crisp granite treads. The lower steps are as craggy as a Roman antiquity. They convey a sense of human scale on the gigantically emptied landscape of ground zero.

But they also stand within the outline of the future Tower 2, an office building planned by Silverstein Properties. That is why a preservation effort has begun. Possibilities include moving the staircase elsewhere on the trade center site, making it an architectural feature attached to or enclosed by Tower 2, or - far less likely - redrawing the Tower 2 outline to avoid it.

"It's certainly a very significant remembrance of what happened that day," said Charles A. Gargano, vice chairman of the Port Authority, on a visit to the staircase last week with Ms. Bergeron and Ms. Clark. "Somehow I would hope that it can be preserved somewhere in the site, if not within Building 2."

The World Trade Center Survivors' Network hopes the stairs can stay rooted. "There's a great power in their being where they were," said Gerry Bogacz, a founding member of the group. "After the south tower collapsed, that was the only way anyone could get off the plaza."

Peg Breen, the president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and Frank E. Sanchis III, the senior vice president of the Municipal Art Society, have also asked that the staircase be permanently preserved in place.

"There will never be another original element of the World Trade Center complex in its original street-level location," they wrote to the site's developer, Larry A. Silverstein, on Nov. 10.

Silverstein Properties had no comment.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Ms. Clark and Ms. Bergeron separately made their way down more than 40 stories of 1 World Trade Center, the north tower, and found each other on the 23rd floor. As they reached a landing in a stairwell on the fourth or fifth floor, the south tower collapsed. There was a terrific noise, then a violent vibration. "At that point," Ms. Bergeron said, "I thought we were going to die."

Ms. Clark looked up to see the stairwell itself twisting. Then the lights went out. "You just closed your eyes and you prayed that it be over," she said, adding, "And then it stopped and the lights came back on."

Getting out of the tower proved hellish, too, through calf-high water, under dangling electrical wires, by a dim emergency light that faded to darkness. They felt their way along a row of lockers, until a firefighter opened a door.

What greeted them outside was a dust cloud so opaque and white that it appeared luminous. "It was light," Ms. Clark said, "but you could not see." Rather than dash across the open plaza, they made their way under the protective eaves of the United States Custom House and 5 World Trade Center to Vesey Street.

"What we had to walk over getting out of 1, if we had to negotiate out to Church Street - I'm not certain that we'd be having this conversation," Ms. Clark said.

Their trial did not end when they reached the Vesey Street staircase. A large man ahead of Ms. Clark began to clutch his chest. "I hit him," she recalled. "I'm like: 'Buddy, keep going. You cannot have gotten this far and not get out of here.' "

At the base of the stairs, Ms. Clark said, a Port Authority police officer heading back into the building stopped to allow the man to use his respirator - a gesture that may have saved the officer's life.

Speaking personally, Ms. Clark called the Vesey Street staircase a "monument to all of us" that embodies the metaphorical power of steps.

"It's religious. It's literary," she said. " 'Ladder of success.' 'Jacob's ladder.' It's all of those things. 'Step program.' It's all very much woven into how we explain things. 'Stairway to heaven.' "

Ms. Clark said: "Your image of the World Trade Center is two towers piercing the sky. This is the only thing that's above grade. And the only remnant that was part of that thing that pierced the sky."

Survivors Begin Effort to Save Stairway That Was 9/11 'Path to Freedom', NYT, 25.11.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/25/nyregion/25remnant.html






Congress Nears Deal

to Renew Antiterror Law


November 17, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 - Congressional negotiators neared a final agreement Wednesday night on legislation that will extend and keep largely intact the sweeping antiterrorism powers granted to the federal government after the Sept. 11 attacks under the law known as the USA Patriot Act.

After months of vitriolic debate, the tentative agreement represents a significant and somewhat surprising victory for the Bush administration in maintaining the government's expanded powers to investigate, monitor and track terror suspects.

Negotiators met into the night Wednesday, with last-minute wrangling over several narrow points, and were expected to reach a final agreement by Thursday. Once negotiators sign the deal, it will require the final approval of the full House and Senate, which is likely to come this week.

But civil rights advocates and Democrats were already in full attack mode late Wednesday, calling the expected deal an "unacceptable" retreat from promised restrictions on the government's sweeping antiterrorism powers.

The agreement ensures the extension of all 16 provisions of the law that were set to expire in six weeks. Fourteen will be extended permanently, and the remaining two - dealing with the government's demands for business and library records and its use of roving wiretaps - will be extended for seven years.

The agreement also includes a seven-year extension of a separate provision on investigating "lone wolf" terrorists.

That represents a compromise between the versions of the bill passed earlier this year by the House and the Senate. The House had voted to extend the provisions by 10 years, but the Senate moved to extend the powers by four years.

The deal reached by negotiators does include some new restrictions on the government's powers, including greater public reporting and oversight of how often the government is demanding records and using various investigative tools.

Critics at the American Civil Liberties Union and elsewhere called the changes "window dressing" and said that the legislation left out what they considered more meaningful reform in preventing civil rights abuses in terror investigations.

"This is a bad bill," Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview. "These are cosmetic changes that do little to change the Patriot Act from the way it was passed four years ago."

The antiterrorism law has become a lightning rod, and the debate over its future - including dozens of hearings and votes by nearly 400 communities urging further restrictions - amounted to a national referendum on the balance between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberties.

Negotiators were still working late Wednesday to allay the concerns of some lawmakers over provisions related to sentencing in terrorism cases and other matters. Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who leads the Judiciary Committee, canceled a news conference that had been scheduled for Wednesday evening, leading to some speculation that the agreement might be in jeopardy. But negotiators said they were confident about working out last-minute wrinkles.

The Senate version of the bill, favored by many House members and by a coalition of civil rights advocates and conservative libertarians, appeared to have gained momentum in recent weeks as negotiations intensified on how to merge the two bills. It generally contained greater restrictions on the government's power than the House bill - requiring, for instance, a higher standard of proof in demanding records.

But the tide appeared to swing in recent days, and Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who leads the House Judiciary Committee, beat back efforts to place further restrictions in some counterterrorism areas, negotiators said.

The Bush administration has made renewal of the antiterrorism law a priority. Administration officials said Wednesday that while they were still waiting to review the final agreement of more than 200 pages, they were pleased that it appeared to retain virtually all of the government's current powers.

One controversial Republican proposal, which would have expanded the F.B.I.'s ability to demand records through administrative subpoenas, was left out of the agreement. Mr. Sensenbrenner also agreed to delete several death-penalty measures that were in the House version of the bill, including one that would have allowed prosecutors a second chance at imposing the death penalty in the event of a deadlocked jury.

Despite such concessions, civil rights advocates said the agreement did little to allay their concerns about potential abuses of power.

Representative John Conyers Jr., the Michigan Democrat who has been a leading voice on civil rights matters, called the expected deal "a huge step back for civil liberties."

And Lisa Graves, a senior counsel with the A.C.L.U., said the agreement "does not address the fundamental flaws" in the original act approved weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. Ms. Graves said Congress was "poised to repeat the same mistakes it made in 2001" in rushing to approve a complex bill that few members had the time to read through.

One area of concern to some members of Congress was the F.B.I.'s growing use of what are called national security letters to demand records in terror investigations without a warrant. The letters have proven a favorite tool, with tens of thousands issued since the 2001 attacks.

The tentative agreement reached by Congressional negotiators clarifies that anyone receiving such a secret letter is allowed to consult with a lawyer, and it requires the Justice Department to disclose publicly the number of times it uses such powers. It also requires the Justice Department inspector general to audit the Federal Bureau of Investigation's use of the records demands.

Congress Nears Deal to Renew Antiterror Law, NYT, 17.11.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/17/politics/17patriot.html






Compromise on Patriot Act

Is Reportedly Reached


November 16, 2005
Filed at 11:50 a.m. ET
The New York Times


WASHINGTON (AP) -- House and Senate negotiators struck a tentative deal on the expiring Patriot Act that would curb FBI subpoena power and require the Justice Department to more fully report its secret requests for information about ordinary people, according to officials involved in the talks.

The agreement, which would make most provisions of the existing law permanent, was reached just before dawn Wednesday. But by mid-morning GOP leaders had already made plans for a House vote on Thursday and a Senate vote by the end of the week. That would put the centerpiece of President Bush's war on terror on his desk before Thanksgiving, more than month before a dozen provisions were set to expire.

Officials negotiating the deal described it on condition of anonymity because the draft is not official and has not been signed by any of the 34 conferees.

Any deal would mark Congress' first revision of the law passed a few weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. In doing so, lawmakers said they tried to find the nation's comfort level with expanded law enforcement power in the post-9/11 era -- a task that carries extra political risks for all 435 members of the House and a third of the Senate facing midterm elections next year.

For Bush, too, such a renewal would come at a sensitive time. With his approval ratings slipping in his second term, the president could bolster a tough-on-terrorism image.

The tentative deal would make permanent all but a handful of the expiring provisions, the sources said. Others would expire in seven years if not renewed by Congress. They include rules on wiretapping, obtaining business records under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and new standards for monitoring ''lone wolf'' terrorists who may be operating independent of a foreign agent or power.

The draft also would impose a new requirement that the Justice Department report to Congress annually on its use of national security letters, secret requests for the phone, business and Internet records of ordinary people. The aggregate number of letters issued per year, reported to be about 30,000, is classified. Citing confidential investigations, the Justice Department has refused lawmakers' request for the information.

The 2001 Patriot Act removed the requirement that the records sought be those of someone under suspicion. As a result, FBI agents can review the digital records of a citizen as long as the bureau can certify that the person's records are ''relevant'' to a terrorist investigation.

Also part of the tentative agreement are modest new requirements on so-called roving wiretaps -- monitoring devices placed on a single person's telephones and other devices to keep a target from evading law enforcement officials by switching phones or computers.

The tentative deal also would raise the threshold for securing business records under FISA, requiring law enforcement to submit a ''statement of facts'' showing ''reasonable grounds to believe the records are relevant to an investigation. Law enforcement officials also would have to show that an individual is in contact with or known to be in contact with a suspected agent of a foreign power.

Compromise on Patriot Act Is Reportedly Reached, NYT, 16.11.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Patriot-Act.html






10 Plots Foiled Since Sept. 11,

Bush Declares


October 7, 2005
The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 - President Bush on Thursday tried to refocus American attention on terrorism, declaring in a speech that the United States and its partners had disrupted 10 serious plots since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The White House said they included a failed effort in 2002 to use hijacked airplanes to attack "targets on the West Coast," and a similar plot on the East Coast in 2003.

The 2002 plot appeared to be the most significant disclosure, and counterterrorism officials said Thursday evening that it had been led by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is said to have been the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. He was captured in Pakistan in 2003.

A listing, produced hastily several hours after Mr. Bush's speech, also included some previously known cases, including the one that led to the arrest in May 2002 of Jose Padilla, who intelligence officials say was exploring the possibility of setting off a dirty bomb in an American city. It was not immediately clear whether other items on the list represented significant threats.

The president's speech came on a day of a major terror alert involving a possible bombing threat in the New York subways.

The speech also came as senior government officials described a warning from one senior leader of Al Qaeda to another that attacks on civilians and videotaped executions committed by his followers could jeopardize their broader cause.

Mr. Bush used his speech, before the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, to warn that Syria and Iran had become "allies of convenience" for Islamic terror groups, appearing to step up political pressure on both countries. He said, "The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them," and he warned that the "the civilized world must hold those regimes to account."

A senior White House official said Thursday evening that the president's 40-minute speech arose from Mr. Bush's desire to remind Americans, after "a lot of distractions" in recent months, that the country was still under threat, and had no choice but to remain in Iraq so Al Qaeda did not use it as a base to train for attacks on the United States and its allies.

The warning from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the top militant leader in Iraq, was spelled out in a 6,000-word letter, dated early in July, that was obtained by American forces conducting counterterrorism operations in Iraq, the official said.

Mr. Bush's warnings about the need for renewed American attention to "this global struggle," and the release of information on past plots that the White House had previously been reluctant to discuss on security grounds, comes at a moment of heightened criticism of the president's handling of the Iraq war and the broader effort against terrorism. It also comes as he is trying to heal fractures in his own party about his selection of a nominee for the Supreme Court, and as he has faced complaints about the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

A poll released by CBS News on Thursday evening indicated that Mr. Bush's approval rating had dropped to 37 percent, and that disapproval of his handling of terrorism was at an all-time high.

Democrats were quick to answer Mr. Bush, saying that he was gliding past major errors of tactics and strategy in Iraq, and that Al Qaeda began operating there only after the American invasion.

Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, said: "The truth is, the administration's mishandling of the war in Iraq has made us less safe, and Iraq risks becoming what it was not before the war: a training ground for terrorists." Mr. Reid, of Nevada, said it was vital that the administration change course in Iraq.

In an unusual move, Mr. Bush named Osama bin Laden, the Qaeda leader, five times in his speech, and quoted Mr. bin Laden's own statements to support the president's argument that terror groups inspired by Al Qaeda were trying to "enslave whole nations and intimidate the world," starting in Iraq.

"They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan," Mr. Bush said of the country that was Mr. bin Laden's sanctuary until the American-led invasion in the fall of 2001.

"Now they've set their sights on Iraq," he continued. "Bin Laden has stated: 'The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation.' "

Mr. Bush compared Islamic militant leaders - at one point he used the phrase "Islamo-fascism" - to Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, and said their ideology, "like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure."

He addressed criticism that he has deliberately conflated the battle on terrorism with the question of whether to remain in Iraq, an issue on which members of his own party are increasingly divided. He said those calling for an American withdrawal to avoid inciting militancy were engaging in "a dangerous illusion."

"Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people and its resources?" he asked. "Having removed a dictator who hated free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our own country, seizes control of Iraq by violence."

Mr. Bush used particularly harsh language in referring to Syria and Iran. While the administration has steadily been increasing pressure on Syria for the last few months, it had held back, until just two weeks ago, from direct criticism of the new Iranian government, which has declared it will never give up its ability to produce nuclear fuel. The United States has contended that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program, which it denies.

But on Thursday, Mr. Bush took up what he and Britain have charged is Iran's continuing, covert support for insurgents in Iraq.

He said militants "have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience, like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America and on the Jews."

As he has before, the president compared Islamic militants' ideology to the Communist expansionism of the last century. The militants were being aided, he said, "by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism."

"Against such an enemy, there's only one effective response: We never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory," he said.

The White House released no details of the two hijacking plots that it said were disrupted.

The Sept. 11 commission had said in its report last year that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had originally envisioned a broader operation in which as many as 10 aircraft would be hijacked and crashed into targets on both coasts. That report said Mr. Mohammed had described such a plot to his American interrogators.

But it had not previously been disclosed publicly that Mr. Mohammed envisioned carrying out a new plot on targets in the West Coast in 2002, after the Sept. 11 attacks. Some other plots listed by the White House have been known, including a thwarted attack in Britain in 2004.

The list also included other plots to bomb several sites in Britain in 2004; to attack Heathrow Airport in London using hijacked commercial airliners in 2003; to attack Westerners at several places in Karachi, Pakistan, in spring 2003; to attack ships in the Persian Gulf in late 2002 and 2003; to attack ships in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow part of the gulf where it opens into the Arabian Sea, in 2002; and to attack a tourist site outside the United States in 2003.


Douglas Jehl contributed reporting from Washington for this article, and Marjorie Connelly from New York.

10 Plots Foiled Since Sept. 11, Bush Declares, NYT, 7.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/07/politics/07prexy.html






Marking 9/11

While Mourning a Fresher Loss


September 12, 2005
The New York Times



The nation marked the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks yesterday in familiar ways - the readings of long lists of victims, the black bands worn across shined badges, the framed portraits clutched by loved ones - even while struggling with its latest tragedy, the death and devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

The day of grief was remembered against a backdrop of new loss. And it was all but impossible to isolate one event from the other. Speakers, from a ceremony at ground zero to a worship service in Washington, paused to honor the hurricane's victims, while rescue workers slogging through New Orleans observed moments of silence for their fallen colleagues now four years gone.

A few blocks from where hijackers slammed two jetliners into the two towers of the World Trade Center, a rudimentary collection jar - a cardboard box with a slit cut into the top - on the countertop of a deli asked for donations, not for Lower Manhattan, but for the Hurricane Katrina survivors. "Fancy Food will match every dollar you give," it promised.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in his short address at ground zero, referred to the deadly storm, as well as to the July 7 terrorist bombings in London: "Today, as we recite the names of those we lost, our hearts turn as well toward London, our sister city, remembering those she has just lost as well. And to Americans suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, our deepest sympathies go out to you this day."

Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey of New Jersey, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani also made brief remarks at the ceremony, which lasted more than four hours under a bright, sunny sky.

In Washington, not far from where American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon, President Bush and Laura Bush attended a morning service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square, along with Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney.

The Rev. Dr. Luis León, quoting Ernest Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms" in his sermon, spoke of becoming strong again in broken places, namely New York and New Orleans. Later in the day, the president made his third visit to the gulf region since the hurricane.

Near Shanksville, Pa., at the site where the fourth airliner crashed after passengers stormed the hijackers in the cockpit, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said, "They were innocent lives taken by incredible evil," according to Agence France-Presse.

In New Orleans, police officers from New York City paused in post-hurricane streets yesterday morning to read the names of their colleagues who were killed on 9/11.

"We said we'd never forget," Inspector Michael V. Quinn said. "What we showed here today is that we still remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11."

Hard work in New Orleans eased the pain of the day for some. Officer Joseph Stynes, who works in the Bronx Anticrime Unit in New York, said thoughts of the anniversary had not occurred to him until the ceremony began. "I was thinking about things down here, more so, than what happened there."

Elsewhere in New Orleans, about 50 emergency management workers and military officers participated in a brief but emotional ceremony at City Hall, where generators provided a limited power supply and scores of city, military and emergency workers from all over the country spend each night on cots or on the floor.

"We can't imagine the level of devastation that has hit your city," said John Paczkowski, the emergency management director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who escaped from 1 World Trade Center minutes before the building collapsed.

To be sure, the anniversary ceremonies maintained the same focus of remembrance as in years past. Ground zero became, from before 8 a.m. until after 1 p.m., an island of emotion. Listening to the hypnotic rhythm of first, middle and last names read from lecterns near the pit, it seemed at times impossible that four years had passed, as voice after voice cracked with emotion.

For the first time, siblings of the victims read the names, a new face of pain; parents and children have read in past years. The siblings threaded personal remarks among the names: "I miss talking with you. I miss laughing with you." "Shake it easy, Sal." "We miss you, bro. Be safe." "Help Katrina hurricane victims also."

Many of the family members wore T-shirts, buttons or signs with their relatives' pictures on them. A few American flags were sprinkled throughout the crowd, but most family members just wore the gold-and-white ribbons that city officials gave them at check-in.

The family of Manuel Del Valle Jr., a firefighter, gathered his framed photograph and their F.D.N.Y. shirts that bear his name and made their way first to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, which opens early on Sept. 11 for family members, and then hurried toward ground zero on the subway to get there before 8:46 a.m. A cousin, Marisol Torres, 39, wore a sheen of dust from the cemetery on her black shoes.

"I think it becomes more of a ritual, but your feelings don't go away," she said. "It's still fresh. It's still raw."

Jessica Correa, 21, lost her brother Danny, 25, who was an intern at Marsh & McLennan and was finishing his bachelor's degree at Berkeley College in Paramus, N.J. "He was just getting started," she said. "He could have been the brightest star." Mr. Correa had a daughter named Katrina, who is now 8.

"It was just really, really strange. It comes so close to Sept. 11, and there's a hurricane named after her," said Ms. Correa, Katrina's aunt. "It brought back so much. The posting of the names, people looking for their families, children looking for their parents. Whether it's hatred or whether it's a natural disaster, there's still lives destroyed."

Brother David Schlatter, a Franciscan friar from Wilmington, Del., stood at the corner of Cortlandt and Church Streets and rang a 5,000-pound brass bell mounted on a trailer, once for each victim of the attacks. "Throughout the centuries, humanity has used bells for special moments," he said. "It resonates deeply with the human spirit.

Five cooks from the Millenium Hilton Hotel across the street from ground zero stepped outside in their white uniforms to pay tribute to their 75 lost colleagues from the Windows onthe World restaurant in the World Trade Center. "Including my best friend," said Musleh Ahmed, 46.

It was the first time the anniversary fell on a Sunday. In St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Belle Harbor, Queens, the second verse of the opening hymn, "Be Not Afraid," seemed to connect Katrina and Sept. 11: "If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown. If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed. If you stand before the pow'r of hell and death is at your side, know that I am with you through it all."

Yesterday afternoon, more than 200 bands played what was collectively called the September Concert in 20 parks in New York City, including Central Park, Union Square and Washington Square, to "celebrate universal humanity and fill the sky with music instead of tears," in the words of Robert Varkony, 43, who helped coordinate one of the events.

Others turned to volunteerism to mark the day, some through an organization called New York Cares. Mort and Merle Price crouched down at Pier 4 in Brooklyn and pulled at the blue stem grass growing up in the two flower beds that had gone to seed. They were married 39 years ago on Sept. 11, 1966.

"It's really hard to have a celebration on a day that's so tragic, so we decided to participate in a project that would commemorate the day," Mrs. Price said.

Memorial services were also held in less predictable places around the world. In Iraq, in the town of Tikrit, insurgents fired mortars at National Guard troops, both a few hours before and a few hours after a ceremony that began at 4:46 p.m. there. At least one soldier appeared to have been injured.

In Keshcarrigan, Ireland, more than 200 people marched behind local firefighters and a bagpipe band to unveil a stone bench and plaque on a lakeshore, dedicated to the Rev. Mychal Judge, the Roman Catholic priest and Fire Department chaplain who was among the first responders to die on 9/11.

Father Judge's father, who died when the chaplain was a young boy, lived at the site before he immigrated to the United States in 1926, so the son felt a particular attachment to the place, family friends said. A cook rose early to start spit-roasting an enormous 130-pound pig in the backyard of Gerty's Pub, to feed the crowd after the formalities.

"He'd love all the fuss," said Liam Coleman, a lieutenant with the New York Fire Department, vacationing in Ireland. "He didn't mind the spotlight at all."

In Kenya, a country hit twice by Qaeda bombers, a memorial service was held in Nairobi. Ben Ole Koissaba complained that the United States has yet to collect the 14 cows that a village donated to the country in 2002. "If they aren't going to accept the gift, they should be checking the animals from time to time, or they should give them back," he said.

Back in New York, bright spotlights symbolizing the two lost towers were turned on last night, as has been the custom each year.

Earlier at ground zero, Chris Burke, the founder of Tuesday's Children, which provides counseling and assistance to children who lost parents in the attack, and who himself lost a brother, Thomas D. Burke, said this anniversary was different for another reason.

"This year, for the first time, there is laughter and smiles through the tears," he said. "The realities have sunk in. This is the time you decide whether you will mire yourself in 9/11 or if you will live and go on with the rest of your life. That's what my brother would have wanted. That's what every brother would have wanted."

He motioned to one of the white tents where the siblings had gathered as they waited to recite the names. "People are telling stories in there," Mr. Burke said. "That hasn't really happened before. This should be an affirmation of life."


Reporting for this article was contributed by Janon Fisher, Colin Moynihan, Jennifer Medina and Angela Macropoulos in New York, Brian Lavery in Ireland, Marc Lacey in Kenya and Christoph Bangert in Iraq.

Marking 9/11 While Mourning a Fresher Loss, NYT, 12.9.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/12/nyregion/12anniversary.html






US marks 9/11 anniversary

with march, silence


Sun Sep 11, 2005 11:59 AM ET


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four years after the September 11 attacks, the United States briefly shifted focus on Sunday from its latest disaster -- Hurricane Katrina -- to memorials for victims of the hijacked-plane strikes in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

In Washington, President George W. Bush and most of his Cabinet observed a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the attacks that claimed more than 2,700 lives.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, sounded a somber note.

"I wish we could say ... that this is a time for peaceful remembrance, that we were gathering today to commemorate a danger that had long since past," Rumsfeld said. "... But we cannot. The enemy, though seriously weakened and continuously under pressure, continues to plot attacks and the danger they pose to the free world is real and present."

At Ground Zero in New York City, brothers and sisters of the thousands killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center tower read out the victims' names to a hushed crowd of several hundred.

"Again, we are a city that meets in sadness," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "We are all linked to one another in our common humanity."

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, praised as a unifying leader after the 2001 attacks, told the group, "All of you here today who lost a sister or brother should know that their loved one helped to save the spirit of our nation on the day of our greatest attack."



Outside the Pentagon -- where a hijacked airliner killed 184 -- thousands of marchers stepped off at mid-morning on a commemorative Freedom Walk to the U.S. capital's central Mall, where an afternoon concert was scheduled.

At the White House, a U.S. Marine Corps bugler played "Taps" at 8:46 a.m. EDT (1246 GMT), the moment that a hijacked airliner slammed into the north tower at the World Trade Center four years earlier.

Bush and first lady Laura Bush, flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne, stood silently on the South Lawn of the White House for a few moments, just long enough for the song to end.

Most of the Bush Cabinet, including Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, looked on under clear blue skies much like those over Washington and New York on the late summer morning in 2001.

Earlier, the Bushes attended St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House, where they lit a candle in memory of the September 11 victims.

Bush was to depart later on Sunday for his third trip to the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast region. The Bush administration has come under fire from critics as being slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and left thousands homeless and unknown numbers dead.

Bush was seen as decisive after the 2001 attacks but four years later the White House was dealing with a natural disaster that has cost the president support.

A Newsweek poll found his approval rating at its lowest -- 38 percent. The survey found 53 percent of Americans no longer trusted Bush to make correct decisions in a foreign or domestic crisis, compared to 45 percent who did.

US marks 9/11 anniversary with march, silence, R, 11.9.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-09-11T155900Z_01_EIC157513_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-SECURITY-MEMORIAL-DC.XML






9/11 Firefighters

Told of Isolation Amid Disaster


September 9, 2005
The New York Times



The firefighters had 29 minutes to get out of the World Trade Center or die. Inside the north tower, though, almost none of them realized how urgent it had become to leave.

They had no idea that less than 200 feet away, the south tower had already collapsed in a life-crushing, earth-shaking heap. Nor did the firefighters know that their commanders on the street, and police helicopter pilots in the sky, were warning that the north tower was on the edge of the same fate.

Until last month, the extent of their isolation from critical information in the final 29 minutes had officially been a secret. For three and a half years, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg refused to release the Fire Department's oral histories of Sept. 11, 2001. Under court order, however, 12,000 pages were made public in August.

On close review, those accounts give a bleaker version of events than either Mayor Bloomberg or former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani presented to the 9/11 Commission. Both had said that many of the firefighters who perished in the north tower realized the terrible danger of the moment but chose to stay in the building to rescue civilians.

They made no mention of what one oral history after another starkly relates: that firefighters in the building said they were "clueless" and knew "absolutely nothing" about the reality of the gathering crisis.

In stairwells or resting on floors, they could not see what had happened or hear clearly stated warnings. Even after the south tower fell, when few civilians remained in the lower floors of the north tower, throngs of firefighters lingered in the lobby and near the 19th floor as time ran down, the survivors said.

"That's the hard thing about it, knowing that there were so many other people still left in that lobby that could have got out," Firefighter Hugh Mettham of Ladder Company 18 said.

Although no official summary specifies where the 343 firefighters died in the rescue effort, a review by The New York Times of eyewitness accounts, dispatch records and federal reports suggests that about 200 perished in the north tower or at its foot.

Of 58 firefighters who escaped the building and gave oral histories, only four said they knew the south tower had already fallen. Just three said they had heard radio warnings that the north tower was also in danger of collapse. And some who had heard orders to evacuate debated whether they were meant for civilians or firefighters.

'Not in My Wildest Dream'

"Not in my wildest dream did I think those towers were coming down," said David Sandvik of Ladder 110.

The point made by both Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Bloomberg to the 9/11 Commission - that firefighters died because they delayed their own departures while trying to save the lives of civilians and other firefighters - is, in one sense, fully corroborated by the oral histories.

Even so, measured against the waves of details in those accounts, those valiant last-minute efforts explain just a fraction of the firefighter deaths in the north tower, a small vivid thread running through the broader fabric of the day.

No one in the Fire Department has tried to use the oral histories to reconstruct the events that led to its human losses that day. Although more than 500 interviews were conducted, just about 10 percent of them involved people who had been inside the north tower. (No firefighters in the south tower, which fell first, are known to have survived its collapse.) Many who escaped from the north tower did not give histories. Few follow-up questions were asked of those who did.

The ragged character of the records does not yield a clear explanation for the isolation of the rescuers within the building, and whether it was because of radio failure, a loss of command and control or flaws in the Fire Department's management structure. Some firefighters described receiving a radio message to evacuate; others used strong language to characterize the communications gear as useless.

Despite their spottiness, the oral histories fill out incomplete chapters in the sprawling chronicle of what happened in New York that morning, much of which took place far beyond the sight of television cameras and their global audience.

Firefighters wondered aloud how they could have attacked a fire reached at the end of a four-hour climb. They marveled at the decency of office workers coming down the stairs, at the bellowing, dust-coated chief on the sidewalk who herded the firefighters clear of the collapse zone, at the voices of experience that brooked no hesitation.

The final moments of the department's senior leaders also rise from the histories as a struggle to rescue dozens of firefighters trapped in the Marriott Hotel after the south tower's collapse. As they worked, the north tower crashed down, killing, among others, Chief of Department Peter Ganci, First Deputy Commissioner William Feehan, and Battalion Chiefs Ray Downey and Lawrence Stack.

Precisely 29 minutes earlier, at 9:59 a.m., the fall of the south tower shook the north tower and stopped the slow, muscular tide of rescuers. By then, the north tower firefighters had been on the move for more than an hour. Each carrying about 100 pounds of gear, only a few had climbed much higher than the 30th floor. Some recalled hearing radio messages from individual firefighters who had made it as far as the 40's.

The calamity next door - the collapse of one of the biggest buildings in the world - was heard but not seen; felt but not understood. The staircases had no windows. Radio communication was erratic. Few firefighters even knew a second plane had struck the other building.

From the street, Chief Ganci twice ordered firefighters to evacuate the north tower, according to Chief Albert Turi, but it was not clear who inside, if anyone, heard him. Even Chief Turi, standing a few feet away, said it had not come over his radio.

Still, many decided to leave after hearing a rumor of a partial collapse some floors above them, or because they assumed another plane had hit.

On the 37th floor, Daniel Sterling, of Engine Company 24, had stopped with firefighters from Ladder 5 and Engine 33 - who did not survive - when the building rattled. A moment later, Firefighter Sterling said, Chief John Paolillo appeared.

"He thought there was a partial collapse of the 65th floor of our building and that we should drop everything and leave," Firefighter Sterling said.

'Get Up and Go, Go, Go'

A few floors below, around the 30th or 31st floor, Chief Paolillo was spotted again. "He was yelling, 'Leave your equipment and just get up and go, go, go,' like that," Lt. Brian Becker of Engine 28 said. Chief Paolillo died.

The word to leave was passed to the 27th floor, where many firefighters were resting, including Michael Wernick of Ladder 9. "I know that there was no urgency at that point trying to get out of the building," he said.

"Do you think anyone around you was aware that the other building collapsed?" an interviewer asked.

"No," he replied.

One exception was Firefighter John Drumm with Engine 39, who said that on the 22nd floor, he heard a transmission: "Imminent collapse of the north tower. Immediate evacuation."

Then he made a point repeated in nearly every interview: "From what I saw on the way down, very, very few civilians were left."

Firefighter Sterling said, "There was nobody in the staircase on the way down."

Lieutenant Becker said, "There were no civilians to speak of in our stairway. There were a couple of stragglers being helped by somebody or other."

Probationary Firefighter Robert Byrne of Engine 24, working his first fire, reached the 37th floor. "I remember going up the stairs took us over the hour," he said. "Getting down the stairs took maybe 10 minutes, not even."

Also on 37, Capt. John Fischer of Ladder 20 discovered that two of his company had gone up ahead. "He was screaming at them for them to get back down," said Lt. Gregg Hansson of Engine 24, who was with Captain Fischer. "Then he went up to get them." Captain Fischer and his men died in the collapse.

Firefighter William Green of Engine 6 was one of the few who said he knew the other tower had fallen. On the 37th floor, "someone opened the door from the 36th floor and said Two World Trade Center just fell down," he said. Over the radio, he heard "Mayday, evacuate."

Slowed by firefighters entering the staircase below him, he switched sides. "In hindsight, I think that's what saved my life," he said.

He did not dawdle. "Around the fourth floor, I passed this civilian - he might have been 450 pounds," Firefighter Green said. "He was taking baby steps like this. I walked right past him like all the other firemen. I felt like a heel when I'm walking past him, and I'm thinking to myself, what does this guy think of me?"

Yet other chronicles show that a very heavy man in that location was eventually dragged to safety by rescuers who included Firefighter Pat Kelly of Rescue 18. Having helped move the man outside, Firefighter Kelly was the only member of his squad to survive. He did not give an oral history.

Elsewhere, crowds of firefighters lingered.

Lt. William Walsh of Ladder 1 said he heard a Mayday to evacuate when he was around the 19th floor, but did not know that a plane had struck the other building, much less that it had collapsed. As he descended, he saw firefighters who were not moving.


No Rush to Get Out

"They were hanging out in the stairwell and in the occupancy and they were resting," Lieutenant Walsh said. "I told them, 'Didn't you hear the Mayday? Get out.' They were saying, 'Yeah, we'll be right with you, Lou.' They just didn't give it a second thought. They just continued with their rest."

Three court officers reported seeing as many as 100 firefighters resting on the 19th floor minutes before the building fell, but they were not questioned by the Fire Department.

Mayor Bloomberg, in a letter to the 9/11 Commission, wrote: "We know for a fact that many firefighters continued their rescue work despite hearing Maydays and evacuation orders and knowing the south tower had fallen."

Asked to reconcile this statement with the oral histories, the city Law Department cited the accounts of eight firefighters and said that each of them surely had spread the word about the collapse of the other tower. In fact, in six of those oral histories, the firefighters specifically said they did not know the other building had fallen.

In the lobby, just yards from safety, survivors said that uncertainty doomed many firefighters.

John Moribito of Ladder 10 said there were maybe "40 or 50 members that were standing fast in the lobby." Roy Chelsen of Engine 28 said, "There were probably 20 or 30 guys down in the lobby mulling around." The interviewer asked, "They weren't trying to get out?"

"They were just - no, no," Firefighter Chelsen recalled.

His officer, Lieutenant Becker said, "There was chaos in the lobby. It was random people running around. There was no structure. There were no crowds. There was no - no operation of any kind going on, nothing. There was no evacuation."

Firefighters with Ladder 11 and Engine 4 came down together to the lobby, but not all made it out. "Everyone is standing there, waiting to hear what's going to happen next, what's going on," Frank Campagna of Ladder 11 said.

His company left, and a moment later, "it came down on top of us," Firefighter Campagna said. "Four Engine obviously didn't make it out. They were with us the whole time, so I'm assuming they were still in the lobby at that time."

The firefighters of Ladder 9 lingered briefly, and most were clear of the building for less than a minute when it fell. Firefighter Wernick remembered seeing two members of his company in the lobby, Jeffrey Walz and Gerard Baptiste. They did not escape. The funeral for Firefighter Baptiste, whose remains were identified this year, was held on Wednesday.

A Figure Coated in Dust

Over and over, firefighters who had left the building in those final minutes, bewildered by the sudden retreat, the ruined lobby, the near-empty street, mentioned a chief covered in the dust of the first collapse, standing just outside the north tower on West Street.

Some knew his name: Deputy Assistant Chief Albert Turi.

"He was screaming, 'Just keep moving. Don't stop,' " Firefighter Thomas Orlando of Engine 65 recalled, adding, "I still didn't know the south tower collapsed." Chief Turi, he said, "saved an awful lot of people." The chief has since retired.

In blunt speech, free of the mythic glaze that varnished much 9/11 discourse, some firefighters wondered why an endless line of rescuers had been sent to an unquenchable fire that raged 1,000 feet up.

"I think if this building had collapsed an hour later, we would have had a thousand firemen in there," said Firefighter Timothy Marmion of Engine 16, who carried a woman on a stretcher from the staircase to an ambulance.

"If it would have collapsed three hours later," he said, "we would have had 10,000 firemen in those buildings."

Had the buildings not fallen, the gear-laden firefighters would have needed about four hours - almost as long as it takes to fly across the country - to reach workers trapped on the high floors.

"We were just as much victims as everybody that was in the building," Firefighter Derek Brogan of Engine 5 said.

"We didn't have a chance to do anything," he added. "We didn't have a chance to put the fire out, which was really all we were trying to do."


Aron Pilhofer provided computer analysis for this article.

9/11 Firefighters Told of Isolation Amid Disaster, NYT, 9.9.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/09/nyregion/nyregionspecial3/09records.html






9/11 Rescuer Recalls Fear and Faith


August 14, 2005
The New York Times


A huge cloud of ash came whipping around the corner of a building in Lower Manhattan, swallowing first the daylight and then her. When the dust cloud had her in its suffocating grip, it lifted her off the ground and threw her down, where she lay until fear compelled her once more to her feet and darkness engulfed her once again.

"At this point I laid down and I started saying my prayers," said the woman, an emergency medical technician named RenaeO'Carroll who was responding to the attack at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, when she became lost in a perilous hail of debris. She saw "big bolts of fire, fire balls" and then a bright light she accepted as a beacon of the afterlife. "I said to myself at the moment: 'I guess this is the light, I guess this is my time.' I felt it was opening up and it was my time to go."

"I was getting ready to die," recalled Ms. O'Carroll, who had been loading a patient into her ambulance at Church and Vesey Streets when she was caught in the north tower's collapse. "And that's when I put my head to the left to see what the light was, and I felt glass. What happened to me was just a miracle. The glass door opened up. It was a door. It was opened up, and it felt like someone put their hands under me, just pulled me, picked me up and pulled me."

Ms. O'Carroll's experience is but one story among thousands that played out in the city that day - in varying degrees of horror, heroism, detachment and poignancy - and her odyssey, recorded by the Fire Department one mild fall day at her Brooklyn station five weeks after the attacks, is neither explosive in its heroics nor unduly gruesome in its details. Yet her oral history, among the hundreds that the city of New York released Friday along with dispatchers' tapes and phone logs of 9/11, is incredible all the same for its mix of modesty, luck and candidness about seemingly small steps at surviving an ordeal that others could bring themselves to recount only in the briefest of terms.

When Ms. O'Carroll found the glass door and pushed through it, she tumbled down some stairs and landed in what she said appeared to be a basement.

"The first thing I saw when I got up was a bucket of mop water," she said. "I needed to clean my eyes out. I took and I put the mop water in my face. I felt, whatever's in this water, if that didn't kill me, this isn't going to."

"I felt that I was still dying," she said. "I felt around; I could see only a half a foot in front of me," she said. "I saw something that said 'men.' It was a men's room. I couldn't get the door open. It had a padlock, just like this station door. I couldn't open it up.

"There was one that said ladies' room across there, and I started saying: 'God, how am I going to get in here? You brought me in this far. You're going to let me die down here?' I started questioning him. 'Why didn't you let me die with everybody else up there? Why bring me down here?'"

Suddenly remembering the only combination that came to mind - 3-2-5, the code for the padlock at her Brooklyn station - she pressed it and, remarkably, the padlock opened to what she would later learn was the restroom of a subway station boiler room.

"When I got inside of there, there was water. I turned the water on, and I washed my face. I cleared my airway out. I made myself vomit to get the stuff out of me."

Still, the water pressure from the faucet was just a trickle. "So what I did, I went and kneeled down over the toilet. I figured if upstairs didn't kill me, the toilet water is not going to kill me either.

"I kneeled on it and I put my hand on the flush and I let the water go down. As it was coming up, I washed my eyes out, and I was able to see around me. I looked around and saw that I was in a bathroom that it had vents up there and that there was no smoke in there.

"I wet paper towels and put it around the door. I was exhausted at this point. I lie down. I found out later on when I lie down and I went - I don't know if I lost consciousness or what. I went to sleep. I found out later that's when the other building fell."

Later, she said, "they told me I was missing seven or eight hours. I don't know. I was asleep. I was asleep. I was asleep a long time."

When she woke up, she nervously checked the padlock combination to make sure she had not dreamed it and that she could get back inside. She propped the door open. When she went exploring to find a way out, she laid toilet paper behind her.

"A trail of bread crumbs?" asked the interviewer.

"Yeah, I did," Ms. O'Carroll replied. "I made a trail to find out where - so I could get back there, because that was a safe haven for me. There was no smoke or anything."

She could not remember how she got there. She had lost her radio, her cellphone, and was breathing with difficulty. She found a stairway that led to an office three flights up, but the door was locked. She went down the stairs to the bathroom and fell asleep again.

When she woke up for the second time, she was determined to make her way out. She retraced her steps and made it to the street, where she found chaos with people running and screaming.

"A police lady grabbed my hand, and she dragged me," Ms. O'Carroll recalled. "I said: 'Help me. I can't really breathe.' She was crying and everything like that. We were pretty much holding each other up."

The police woman, whose name Ms. O'Carroll did not know, flagged down an ambulance and put Ms. O'Carroll in the back.

"I said: 'Please come with me.' I grabbed her hand," Ms. O'Carroll recalled. "She said: 'I can't, I have to stay. I have to stay and help people.' She couldn't breathe herself.

"I wish I could see her again one day, a little small thing."

The ambulance moved through Lower Manhattan, picking up two more victims - a man and an elderly woman - as it made its way to Beekman Downtown Hospital. Ms. O'Carroll found a pediatric breathing mask for the other patients to share, and they lay on the floor of the ambulance and prayed until they arrived at the hospital.

"I took a shower there," she said. "I cleaned up. They gave me a towel."

" The only thing I had left of mine was my boots," she said.

"Someone brought me from there back to Brooklyn, and the whole station, everyone from all three tours was there. When I came, they were clapping, and we all cried. It was just beautiful.

"But I'm glad that I was there and they weren't because it might have turned out differently."

"It wasn't my time to go," she said. "That's all it is."

"I went back down there two weeks later to help out at the morgue, because it was really bothering me," she said. "I had to go back down there, because I felt I ran away the first time.

"I was in the morgue 22 hours. Twenty-two hours. I had to get back there and face whatever it was."

9/11 Rescuer Recalls Fear and Faith, NYT, August 14, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/14/nyregion/nyregionspecial3/14ems.html






Recorded details

of Sept 11 NY attacks

made public


Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:43 PM ET
By Ellen Wulfhorst


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dramatic and previously unreleased details of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on New York were made public on Friday following a court order that overruled the city's efforts to keep some records of the World Trade Center attack private.

The audio tapes, transcripts of emergency workers' radio dispatches and oral histories by rescuers recount the harrowing and grim moments when thousands of people were trapped and died in the flames and debris of the twin towers.

"Can anybody hear me? I'm a civilian. I'm trapped," says one panicked voice on a Fire Department radio dispatch tape. "I can't breathe much longer. Save me. I don't have much air. Please help me. I can barely breathe."

On another tape, an emergency worker shouts: "The World Trade Center has collapsed. Urgent. Urgent. Everybody get out."

The city's Fire Department released roughly 15 hours of radio transmissions and oral histories by more than 500 firefighters and paramedics taken following the attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people in the towers, including 343 firefighters.

Some family members have voiced hopes that the transcripts and tapes would help determine whether doomed firefighters failed to hear orders to evacuate or chose to keep trying to save people in the rubble despite the deadly consequences.

The city initially sought not to release many of the transcripts, arguing that some oral histories were made with promises of confidentiality and that some details would upset the families of those who died.

After legal action by The New York Times and several victims' families, a state Court of Appeals earlier this year ordered the release of much of the information.

Some tapes detail efforts by frustrated emergency units to reach one another. Controversy has arisen over failures of the police and fire departments to communicate with one another and possible problems with rescuers' radios.

Amid heavy static and sirens on one tape, a dispatcher can be heard saying: "You're totally unreadable. Your radio's not coming in."

"Right now we're all alone," says another voice on a Fire Department tape. "The second building came down. I can't see so we have no contact with anybody at this time."

Calls to other units are greeted with silences, and others with frantic cries and complaints that the smoke and debris was too thick to reach the attack site.

"Have them mobilize the Army! We need the Army in Manhattan!" cried one voice.

"Everybody try to calm down," another voice responded.

One paramedic recalls seeing a street next to the Trade Center littered with body parts. An ambulance driver can be heard saying: "All I want to know is where is the nearest triage? We got an ambulance full of people, and we are being bombarded with so many we can't handle."

An oral history by Chief Fire Marshal Louis Garcia recounts how he thought he heard gunshots from the collapsed buildings.

"Police officers that were trapped were shooting their guns off to try to draw attention to where they were trapped."

Recorded details of Sept 11 NY attacks made public, R, Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:43 PM ET,

















A man called out

asking if anyone needs help

after the collapse of the first World Trade Center Tower

Angel Franco/The New York Times        NYT        13.8.2005

The Records

Vast Archive Yields New View of 9/11
















Parts of Patriot Act

are offensive-lawyers group


Mon Aug 8, 2005 4:42 PM ET
By Andrew Stern


CHICAGO (Reuters) - The president-elect of the nation's largest lawyers group on Monday said some of the federal government's investigative powers included in the anti-terrorism Patriot Act are a threat to constitutional rights.

Michael Greco criticized aspects of the act, passed to bolster security after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, at the American Bar Association convention, where U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urged the U.S. Congress to renew it.

"We support the (Bush) administration in its efforts to secure the nation but we have taken policy positions, four or five of them, where we think due process has not been followed," Greco said in an interview with Reuters.

He criticized exceptions the law makes to the constitution's privacy protections that give law enforcement the power to search a home without the homeowner's knowledge and without a judge-approved search warrant.

"The ABA position is that some of these provisions are so invasive of individual liberties that there has to be a sunset provision. They're offensive, I think, to democracy," Greco said.

Members of a conference committee in Congress seeking to reconcile competing versions of the law's renewal are debating whether to include a four-year or 10-year "sunset" clause that would allow some of those provisions to expire.

In his address, Gonzales insisted the Patriot Act was essential to fighting terrorism and accused critics of clouding the debate with "a litany of misstatements and half-truths."

"We are fighting terrorism with the tools and techniques provided for in the Patriot Act, tools that have long been available to fight crime," he said. "We are doing this in a manner that protects individual rights and liberties.

"We are not interested in the reading habits of ordinary citizens (and) we are subject to the oversight of federal judges," Gonzales said, citing an oft-ridiculed provision that gives law enforcement powers to review library records and bookstore sales.

Although delegates to the group's annual convention did not single out President Bush, several resolutions appeared aimed at administration stances.

The group, which represents more than 400,000 attorneys, judges and law students, passed by unanimous voice vote a resolution calling for respect for judges.

Bush, for instance, has complained in the past about "activist judges" whose rulings have allowed gays to marry and otherwise angered conservatives. An outcry led by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay also followed judicial rulings in the right-to-die case involving Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead Florida woman whose former husband ultimately succeeded in having her feeding tube removed.

ABA delegates this week were expected to approve a halt to a perceived erosion of attorney-client privilege and a federal shield law for reporters seeking to protect their sources.

Parts of Patriot Act are offensive-lawyers group, R, Mon Aug 8, 2005 4:42 PM ET, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-08-08T204304Z_01_N08355528_RTRIDST_0_USREPORT-SECURITY-LAWYERS-DC.XML







Terror Suspect's

Path From Streets to Brig


April 25, 2004
The New York Times


About 10 months after Jose Padilla disappeared into a naval brig in South Carolina, a Pentagon official appeared at his mother's workplace in Florida with a greeting card. When Estela Ortega Lebron saw the familiar pinched handwriting, she trembled, knowing, before even reading the card, that it was for real, the first evidence of her son's existence since he was seized by the American military in June 2002.

"In the name of God the merciful the mercy giver," Mr. Padilla wrote, "I have been allowed to write you a card and just letting you know I'm doing fine and in good health. Do not believe what is being said about me in the news it is untrue and I pray that we can have a reunion. Love your son Pucho." Pucho was Mr. Padilla's childhood nickname.

That card was the sum and substance of Mr. Padilla's communication with the outside world for about 21 months. Brooklyn-born and Chicago-bred, a Muslim convert of Puerto Rican descent, Mr. Padilla, 33, was first arrested at O'Hare International Airport in May 2002. A month later, President Bush took the extraordinary step of declaring him an "enemy combatant," and the military placed Mr. Padilla, whom the government accused of plotting a radiological "dirty bomb" attack, in solitary confinement.

Last month, more than a year after a federal judge ordered the government to permit Mr. Padilla to see his lawyers, the government relented. It did not allow a traditional attorney-client meeting, though. Military officials hovered and a videocamera recorded the encounter.

The government also acceded to a longstanding request from the International Committee of the Red Cross for a private visit with Mr. Padilla, and the visit itself was something of a milestone. Until this year, the International Red Cross, which visits prisoners of war and political prisoners around the world, had never intervened in the detention of an American by Americans in America.

Mr. Padilla's detention confounds traditional notions of the way justice works in America. His case, which goes before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, is shrouded in secrecy. No charges have been filed against him. And the government has offered just a hint of any evidence it has, asking the courts to defer to its judgment that, as Mr. Bush proclaimed, "this guy Padilla's a bad guy."

In Plantation, Fla., Mr. Padilla's mother, a condo owner, churchgoer and sales consultant for a human resources company, is as baffled as she is distressed. "Why are they doing this to an American?" she asked. "If we go to all these other countries to promote democracy — hello? — why can't we practice it at home? I'm like, `Give me proof.' If my son did something, charge him. Give him his day in court."

The Bush administration says that the norms of criminal justice do not apply here, that the government has moved from a peacetime to a wartime footing. It is within the wartime authority of the president as commander in chief, the government says, to detain Mr. Padilla indefinitely in order to interrogate him and prevent him from engaging in terrorism.

Padilla v. Rumsfeld raises fundamental questions about presidential power and the checks and balances on that power during the campaign against terror. Lawyers on both sides agree that this is one of the most important cases of its kind in at least 50 years. Yet Mr. Padilla himself has been little more than a fuzzy image in a grainy photo, and the process by which the government decided to detain him without trial has been opaque.

Now Mr. Padilla's mother, his ex-wife in Florida, his second wife in Egypt and friends have broken their anxious silence. Together with accounts from former and current government officials and court papers, they trace Mr. Padilla's journey from Pentecostal child preacher to Muslim convert to suspected terrorist, from a Taco Bell in Davie, Fla., to a pilgrimage site in Mecca to the Charleston, S.C., brig.


The Allegations

That journey covered significant territory, geographically, emotionally and spiritually, and family and friends paint a vivid picture of Jose Padilla. If he lived a double life, they were unaware of it. And the American government has said so little beyond its initial, startling allegations about Mr. Padilla that it is difficult to reconcile the two portrayals — the man his relatives thought they knew and the man the government calls an enemy of his homeland.

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Mr. Padilla's capture from Moscow on June 10, 2002, saying that an "unfolding terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive dirty bomb" had been disrupted, an attack with the potential to cause "mass death and injury."

Later, other officials emphasized that the "unfolding terrorist plot" had not progressed beyond "loose talk," as Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, put it.

The government has asked the public and the courts to accept that Mr. Padilla would not be locked up incommunicado if he were not a danger to national security and a highly valuable intelligence source. One of Mr. Padilla's lawyers, Donna R. Newman, calls it the "because-we-say-so doctrine."

The central allegations against Mr. Padilla are contained in one unsealed memorandum, a declaration by Michael H. Mobbs, a Pentagon official. Mr. Padilla, the memo says, is an associate of Al Qaeda who, in travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan, met with senior Qaeda officials, trained in wiring explosives, "researched" dirty bombs, concocted plans for attacks on the United States and, "it is believed," returned to the United States to "conduct reconnaissance and/or attacks" on behalf of Al Qaeda.

The declaration was based on Mr. Mobbs's review of reports from "multiple intelligence sources." In a footnote, Mr. Mobbs said that two of those sources might not have been "completely candid" and might have tried to provide some disinformation. One source recanted some information, and another was being treated "with various types of drugs" for a medical condition. But, the footnote continued, much of their information checked out.

The Mobbs declaration omitted one piece of information from a sealed warrant used for Mr. Padilla's arrest. On the request of Mr. Padilla's lawyers, a federal judge unsealed it:

Mr. Padilla, in the opinion of the government's informants, was unwilling to die for the cause.


Crime and Conversion

Born in Cumberland Hospital in Brooklyn, raised alongside four siblings in working-class Chicago, Jose Padilla looks like a handsome, confident, ordinary boy in family photos. He wears a powder-blue suit for Christmas at 10, a top hat and tails for a cousin's cotillion at 12, a Chicago Cubs uniform for a mock Sport magazine cover at 19.

The photos do not show his teenage stumbling, of which there was plenty. Mr. Padilla, who grew up without his father, hung out on the streets, flashed gang symbols, drank. At 14, he got involved disastrously with an older friend in a murder that began as a petty robbery.

Mr. Padilla and his friend were drinking on a street corner in Chicago when they decided to rob a couple of Mexican immigrants. The immigrants put up a fight and chased them until Mr. Padilla's friend tired of running and, for the net gain of a watch and about $9 in pesos, stabbed one of the immigrants, Elio Evangelista, to death.

Mr. Padilla then kicked the victim in the head "because he felt like it," according to his juvenile records. Mr. Padilla was placed in juvenile detention until he was 19.

When Mr. Padilla was 19, his first son, Joshua, was born. Soon afterward, he left town, following his mother, who suffered from arthritis, to South Florida.

In about 1991, Mr. Padilla met Cherie Maria Stultz, a soft-spoken, formally courteous woman who had immigrated from Jamaica as a child. The attraction, Ms. Stultz said in an interview, was physical. She was drawn to his eyes and to his build. They started dating. Ms. Stultz was working at a Burger King, and Mr. Padilla at a hotel. They went to the movies a lot.

Several months after they met, Mr. Padilla, who was 20, got into a traffic dispute on a thoroughfare in Broward County, according to law enforcement records. He cut off another driver and, for punctuation, flashed a revolver at him.

The other driver, trying to read Mr. Padilla's license plate, then followed him to a gas station. Mr. Padilla responded by firing off a single shot — into the air, he later told the police. He was charged with three felony counts and sent to the Broward County jail.

A few months into his detention, Mr. Padilla got aggressive with a guard and was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. He told Ms. Stultz during a visit that he had done something he regretted, and he vowed to turn his life around.

"He was upset at himself for getting into trouble again," said Ms. Stultz, now 36. "He wanted to stop — stop all that and make a better place for himself in the world."

Still in jail, Mr. Padilla began fasting, working out compulsively and reading the Bible from cover to cover, Ms. Stultz said. One day, he told her about a kind of out-of-body experience accompanied by a couple of visions. In one, he saw a man in a turban surrounded by the dust of the desert. In the other, he saw a beautiful woman in a dark corridor at the end of which was a door with "crystal, loving light" peeking out from beneath. He wanted to go through the doorway but the woman told him he was not ready. "Those two dreams made him change his way of life," Ms. Stultz said.

Pleading guilty to both sets of charges, Mr. Padilla got out of jail after 10 months. It was the summer of 1992, he was 21, and he did not end up behind bars again until the F.B.I. took him into custody nearly 10 years later. He also did not, as Mr. Ashcroft stated, travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan "subsequent to his release from prison." He spent the six years after his release — from jail, not from prison — living in Florida.

On his release, Mr. Padilla applied for a job at the Taco Bell in Davie where Ms. Stultz worked. Muhammed Javed, a Pakistani-American and co-founder of the Broward School of Islamic Studies, was the manager. He hired Mr. Padilla on his girlfriend's recommendation, and never regretted it.

For more than two years, Mr. Padilla received deliveries, threw away boxes and prepared food alongside Ms. Stultz, and both were excellent employees, Mr. Javed said in an interview at an IHOP near the Taco Bell.

Ms. Stultz expressed an interest in Islam, Mr. Javed said. "I told her I couldn't discuss religion at Taco Bell," he said. Mr. Javed invited her to his home, where his wife gave classes in the scriptures to women. Occasionally Mr. Padilla accompanied her, until Mr. Javed's wife suggested that he go to the mosque with the men.

When he saw men there wearing turbans, he remembered his vision and "felt that's where he belonged," Ms. Stultz said. "He's the type of person where he needs a dominant thing to keep him from going astray. He stopped drinking alcohol and removed pork from his diet."

That they both accepted Islam touched Mr. Javed considerably. "If I could describe the feeling in Muslims when you find a convert," he said, "I would describe it as right to the heavens."

Ms. Stultz and Mr. Padilla lived humbly, working at a variety of jobs that paid minimum wage or slightly more. With the exception of traffic infractions, Mr. Padilla kept out of trouble with the law. He became a quiet, studious regular at Arabic and scripture classes at the Darul Uloom mosque in Pembroke Pines and then at Masjid Al-Iman in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Maulana Shafayat Mohammed, the Trinidadian-born imam at Darul Uloom who is known for preaching against the misuse of Islamic teachings to justify violence, described Mr. Padilla as a student hungry for knowledge, "neither quarrelsome nor radical but rather willing to listen and obey." Raed Awad, the Palestinian-born former imam at Masjid Al-Iman, said Mr. Padilla seemed to have taken religion to heart, perhaps because in his criminal years he had "tried the other side of society."

In 1994, Mr. Padilla, with "Jose" still tattooed on his right forearm, formally changed his name to Ibrahim. His family was not thrilled with his conversion.

"I was upset because he joined the Muslim religion," Mr. Padilla's mother, a Pentecostalist, acknowledged. "This boy grew up in the Christian church. He was baptized in water and everything. He received the tongues when he was 8 and as a child preached the word of God. He's crazy about the Lord."

Mrs. Lebron said she grew to respect her son's decision because she wanted to keep him in her life. It took her a while, though, to get used to seeing him draped in a red-and-white-checked keffiyeh, and to hearing his stories about anti-Muslim prejudice. One time, his car was stoned and the windows broken, she said.

Although they first took out a marriage license in 1991, Ms. Stultz and Mr. Padilla waited until January 1996 to marry in a quiet ceremony at the Broward County courthouse. Gradually, perhaps because they were young, inexperienced and isolated by religion from their families, their relationship grew rocky, Ms. Stultz said. They sought counseling from Mr. Awad.

In 1998, Mr. Padilla decided that he wanted to immerse himself more fully in the Arabic language and in Islam. Mr. Awad said it was common for mosques in America to encourage converts by offering them scholarships to study abroad. At Masjid Al-Iman, he said, a collection was taken to pay for Mr. Padilla's ticket and travel expenses.

Mr. Padilla's family thought he was nuts. "I said, `Why are you going to go to the Middle East when you have nobody there?' " his mother said. Ms. Stultz was upset. She told him she would not accompany him. The idea was "too strange," she said. But she never suspected that he had a hidden agenda. "In his time with me, I never heard of the word Al Qaeda, never heard of anything terroristic," she said. (Former administration officials said there was no evidence that Mr. Padilla was recruited by Al Qaeda in South Florida.)

Right before Mr. Padilla left, Mr. Javed bumped into him at a mosque. Mr. Padilla told him that he was leaving to teach English in Cairo. "I was baffled, thinking, `You yourself don't speak proper English,' " Mr. Javed said. "But I said, `O.K., Jose, more power to you.' And then Jose disappeared from the scene."


An American in Egypt

In Egypt, Mr. Padilla called his wife once a month for the first six months. He offered little information. He complained about the pollution in Cairo and told her she would not like it there, she said. Periodically he called his mother, asking after the family.

Another American convert in Egypt met Mr. Padilla, whom he knew as Ibrahim, through a friend. "My friend said, `Here's another brother from the States,' " the man said in an interview. (The man asked that his name be withheld, saying that he did not want to attract government scrutiny.)

The American converts tended to congregate in Nasser City, a Cairo suburb, the man said. Most of them journeyed to Egypt "to experience what everybody calls the real Islamic experience, to hear the calls to prayer, to pray at the mosque five times a day as a natural part of life." Mr. Padilla in particular, he said, "had like a real zeal for knowledge."

After a year or so in Egypt, the man said, Mr. Padilla expressed an interest in marrying: "He's human, and he's young." At that time, the man was living in a village outside Tanta in the Egyptian delta. He presented Mr. Padilla to a villager, Abu Shamia'a, as a suitor for his daughter, Shamia'a, who was then 19. There was a formal meeting. "You get a bunch of Pepsis and you sit down and the woman's in the other room," the man said. "Then you go over and take a look and see if your heart feels something. Ibrahim was interested."

Shamia'a herself was not certain. She now wears black from head to toe, with only her eyes peeking out. But at that time, she was not even veiled and she did not know if she wanted to take on a fully religious life. Mr. Padilla suggested that she ask God for guidance, and after she prayed, she began to feel differently. "I felt God had sent someone to help me be a better Muslim," she said last week in an interview in her village.

Abu Shamia'a, a retired laborer, was pleased with the new son-in-law who always carried a small Arabic-English dictionary to supplement his impressive Arabic. Mr. Padilla had only $480 in savings, Abu Shamia'a said, so he married his daughter off not for financial reasons but for religious ones. Mr. Padilla used to say that time spent away from the Koran was wasted time, Abu Shamia'a said.

In Florida, Ms. Stultz learned of her husband's betrothal from an Egyptian-American friend. Horrified, she called and pleaded with Mr. Padilla not to proceed with another marriage. "He said I should go ahead with my life," she said. "I was sad. I wasn't going to get married again. There was a bond between us."

Ms. Stultz filed for divorce, calling her marriage "irretrievably broken," and the marriage was dissolved.

After his second wedding, in July 1999, Mr. Padilla moved his new wife to Cairo, where he worked days teaching English at a private school and nights as a gym trainer and martial arts instructor. In early 2000, he traveled to Saudi Arabia for the hajj, the annual religious pilgrimage to the birthplace of Islam. Shamia'a declined to accompany him because she was pregnant.

Some time after returning from the hajj, Mr. Padilla told his wife that he had an offer to teach English in Yemen. "To him it was an opportunity to see a different world and learn more about his religion," she said. Shamia'a gave birth to a son in September 2000, and Mr. Padilla first saw the baby, who he thought was the spitting image of himself, when he returned to Egypt on vacation.

Mr. Padilla called his mother in Florida to announce the birth of his son, Hussein. "My God, why would somebody name their son that?" Mrs. Lebron asked Ms. Stultz at the time. She did not know that Mr. Padilla had named his son after a grandson of the prophet of Islam.

Because Mr. Padilla was gone all the time, Abu Shamia'a moved his daughter and grandson back to his simple cement house in the village. In May 2001, on Mr. Padilla's next visit home, he was ill with hepatitis C, his skin yellow. He spent his vacation visiting clinics until one doctor prescribed a treatment based on honey and a strict diet in addition to medicine. Feeling better, he told his wife and father-in-law, who find it hard to believe that he was not being straight with them, that it was time to return to Yemen.

"He was working and learning in Yemen, that is all that that he did there," his wife said. "He did nothing wrong. I swear to God."


'The Hunt Was On'

In the spring of 2002, Abu Zubaydah, a senior official of Al Qaeda who was in American custody at an undisclosed location overseas, told his interrogators about Mr. Padilla and the alleged dirty bomb plot, government officials say.

He did not name Mr. Padilla but described him physically and referred to him as a Latin American man who went by a Muslim name, an official with the Department of Homeland Security said.

Intelligence agents began searching commercial and law enforcement databases under that Muslim name. At about the same time, Mr. Padilla was briefly detained in Pakistan on a passport violation. This helped a customs intelligence agent link the name given by Abu Zubaydah to "an Arab alias not mentioned by the detainee," the official said.

That "alias" led the agent to Mr. Padilla's Florida driver's license, the official said. The photo was shown to "a detainee," presumably Abu Zubaydah, who confirmed that Mr. Padilla was the "Latin American" he had been describing. The Pakistanis also viewed the photo and made a confirmation.

"Then, essentially, the hunt was on," the official said.

In the weeks leading to his arrest, Mr. Padilla made two trips to Zurich, possibly just in transit between countries in the Middle East. "Warnings came directly from U.S. intelligence that Padilla was coming through Switzerland," a senior European intelligence official said. "The Swiss had nothing on him. Their involvement was strictly at the request of the Americans."

On April 4, Mr. Padilla arrived in Zurich on a flight from Karachi and checked into a downtown hotel, his movements and phone calls closely monitored by Swiss officials working with the C.I.A. He made several calls to Pakistan, the European official said.

After four days in Zurich, Mr. Padilla returned to Egypt to see his family. It was a joyous reunion. Shamia'a had just given birth to a second son, Hassan. Mr. Padilla spent a month in the village, renting his wife her own house there and leaving her with her yearly allowance plus rent, she said.

In early May, Mr. Padilla's Egyptian family drove him to the airport for what they thought was a long-overdue trip to the United States to see his American family. "This was the last time we saw him," Shamia'a said, tears dripping onto her veil.

In the United States, Mrs. Lebron was eagerly awaiting Mr. Padilla's phone call from Chicago, where he was planning to stop first to surprise his American son, Joshua. Instead, she got a call from a stranger — a lawyer — in New York.


'A Rather Weak Case'

Mr. Padilla flew through Zurich once more. On May 8, 2002, he checked in at the Zurich airport for a flight to Chicago. Swiss security officials screened him carefully, and he boarded the plane accompanied, unknowingly, by Swiss and American agents. There was some debate within the American government about whether Mr. Padilla should be followed once he landed or picked up immediately; it was decided that no chances should be taken.

At O'Hare, Mr. Padilla was arrested by F.B.I. agents on a material witness warrant. The material witness statute allows the authorities to detain a person to compel his testimony in a criminal proceeding, which in the case of Mr. Padilla was to be a New York grand jury investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. Since the attacks, the government has used the material witness warrant as a counterterrorism tool, to hold terrorism suspects before it has evidence to support a criminal arrest or indictment. Sometimes the suspects never go before a grand jury, and sometimes no charges are ever filed.

From Chicago, Mr. Padilla was transferred to New York and imprisoned on a high-security floor, 10 South, at the Metropolitan Correction Center in Lower Manhattan. The court appointed Ms. Newman, a Jersey City-based criminal defense lawyer who accepts indigent cases two days a year, to represent him.

"When I first met him, he was brought out in a `three-piece suit' — shackles, leg irons and a metal belt," Ms. Newman said. "I was handed an affidavit alleging that he was involved in a plot, according to informants, and saying that the informants were unreliable."

As Ms. Newman recalls, she raised her eyebrows when she read the affidavit. So too did Dale Watson, who was then the F.B.I.'s executive assistant director for counterterrorism, when he read Mr. Padilla's complete file.

"My recollection was this was a rather weak case," Mr. Watson, who retired from the F.B.I. later that year, said. "There was some information, but it needed a lot more work on the investigative side to flush out all the facts."

Ms. Newman saw Mr. Padilla about a dozen times. During that time, Mr. Padilla's mother was summoned to appear before a grand jury in New York. "The F.B.I. talked to me like I was a nobody," Mrs. Lebron said. "They told me I had to go to the grand jury and if I lied, I would be locked up. And I was like, `Excuse me!' " F.B.I. agents promised that she would be able to visit her son while in New York, she said, "but they lied."

On June 10, two days before a hearing in which Ms. Newman was going to challenge Mr. Padilla's continued detention, she got a call on her car phone from an assistant United States attorney. "He said, `Donna, the military has taken your client,' " she said. "I thought it was a joke."


The Learning Curve

It wasn't.

Mr. Padilla was arrested at a moment when the Bush administration was getting fed up with criminal prosecutions of terror suspects and wanted to avail itself instead of what it saw as the president's wartime power to detain them militarily.

"The president's response from 9/11 forward was to use every power and means at his disposal to try to prevent another attack," said Brad Berenson, a former associate White House counsel. The administration believed that dealing with the threat of terrorism in the context of war was appropriate and "forward leaning," he said.

But there was a learning curve. "There was not immediately a clear pattern or process to harmonize the treatment of all these folks," a former administration official said, referring to terror suspects and combatants.

The Bush administration grew disenchanted with the law enforcement approach after encountering difficulties in the prosecutions of John Walker Lindh and Zacarias Moussaoui. Mr. Lindh, an American citizen captured in Afghanistan, ended up plea-bargaining for a 20-year prison term, avoiding a life sentence. Mr. Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent who faced charges in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, demanded access to the testimony of Qaeda officials who might aid his defense, throwing his case into protracted legal battles when the administration refused.

Those experiences convinced officials that a broader cost-benefit analysis was in order before pursuing other prosecutions.

Mr. Padilla certainly could have been charged with "a variety of offenses" based on the same facts that the president relied on to declare him an enemy combatant, in the opinion of Janet Reno, the former attorney general, who, with other law enforcement officials, filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Mr. Padilla. Congress, Ms. Reno noted, has passed a number of statutes expanding the government's authority to prosecute terrorists "before they strike."

But bringing criminal charges would have been complicated. As Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to the president, explained in a speech in late February: "We could have abundant information that an individual has committed a crime — such as material support for terrorism — but the information may come from an extremely sensitive and valuable intelligence source. To use that information in a criminal prosecution would mean compromising that intelligence source and potentially putting more American lives at risk."

In other words, to make a case against Mr. Padilla, the government, which was relying on informants, would have to have been willing to bring Abu Zubaydah or other captured Qaeda officials into an American courtroom, or to make some arrangements for their testimony to be introduced.

Mr. Padilla's mother was offended by what she saw as unequal treatment of Mr. Lindh and her son. "That John Walker Lindh. They didn't make him disappear, take away his rights," she said. "I guess maybe because his father's a lawyer. He's white, whatever."

The administration initially availed itself of the material witness warrant statute to hold Mr. Padilla. But after a federal judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that the government could not detain material witnesses for grand jury investigations, as opposed to detaining them for trials, the administration feared that Michael B. Mukasey, the chief federal judge in the Southern District, would follow suit in Mr. Padilla's case and release him.

(In actuality, that fear was probably unfounded. Several months later, Judge Mukasey upheld the detention of a material witness in another case, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed the other judge's ruling.)

So the administration shifted gears.

There were already hundreds of enemy combatants in custody, but they were aliens seized in Afghanistan and Pakistan and detained at the American naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Among them, as it turned out, was a Louisiana-born man, Yaser Hamdi, who had grown up in Saudi Arabia. In April 2002, when Mr. Hamdi's citizenship was discovered, he was transferred to a military brig in the United States and his status as an enemy combatant remained intact. His case will be argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, too.

Mr. Padilla's situation was different, though. He was not only born and raised in the United States; he had been taken into custody in the United States by civilian law enforcement authorities. Designating Mr. Padilla an enemy combatant was a conscious tactical decision at the very highest level of the American government.

It was not a transparent one, however. In late February, more than a year and a half after naming Mr. Padilla an enemy combatant, Mr. Gonzales undertook to explain what he described as a "careful, thorough and deliberative process."

"We realize that our relative silence on this issue has come at a cost," Mr. Gonzales told a committee of the American Bar Association. "Many people have characterized — mischaracterized — our actions in the war on terrorism as inconsistent with the rule of law." People have imagined the worst, Mr. Gonzales continued, suggesting that "the decision-making process is a black box that raises the specter of arbitrary action."

In fact, he claimed, there have been individuals who did not pass the levels of review required to become enemy combatants, which he described as involving legal and factual assessments by the director of central intelligence, the secretary of defense and the attorney general.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a week earlier, had initiated the administration's effort to explain its thinking. "Detaining people without trials seems unusual," he said. "After all, our country stands for freedom and it stands for the protection of rights." The inclination of most Americans," he added, was "to think in terms of criminal law and punishment rather than the law of war, which has as its purpose first to keep the enemy off the battlefield so that they can't kill more innocent people."

Deborah Pearlstein, an expert in counterterrorism at Human Rights First, said the administration misrepresented international humanitarian law. "There is nothing in the law of war that says you can hold somebody indefinitely with no rights," she said. "That's just false."


The Legal Battle Begins

In Egypt, Mr. Padilla's wife and father-in-law said, they were questioned by their country's state security services for three days after his capture. Abu Shamia'a asked his daughter if she wanted to get a divorce. Shuddering with sobs, she repeated her answer in an interview last week.

"I can never find a man like him in this whole world," she said, "and I'll stand by him in this ordeal as long as it shall take."

After Mr. Padilla was transferred to the brig, Ms. Newman filed a habeas corpus petition for his release, starting the legal battle that would go all the way to the Supreme Court. Andrew G. Patel, a defense lawyer in Manhattan with experience in terrorism cases, was appointed Ms. Newman's co-counsel by the court. The military did not allow them contact with their client.

Initially, some members of Congress expressed concern. But Representative Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat from California and a former federal prosecutor, said that "solidarity with the administration on fighting terrorism trumped the otherwise strong libertarian leanings" of many in Congress. Mr. Schiff failed to make headway with a bill that would have authorized the president to detain enemy combatants so long as they were provided with access to counsel and judicial review.

After Mr. Padilla was interned in the brig, the F.B.I. spent months fighting for access to him, a former senior counterterrorism official said. In the fall of 2002, when military interrogators were frustrated in their efforts to get anything out of Mr. Padilla, they allowed the federal agents in. "Those conversations were not initially fruitful," the former official said, adding that he did not know whether the interrogations ever produced significant information. The Defense Department will not comment on the condition of Mr. Padilla's detention or his interrogation.

In December 2002, Judge Mukasey handed the Bush administration a partial victory. He ruled that the president had the power to detain enemy combatants, regardless of whether they were Americans or where they were apprehended. It did not matter that the war on terror had not been formally declared or that it had no clear end, he said, and the president's power was bolstered by Congress's authorization after Sept. 11, 2001, of "necessary and appropriate force."

But the judge did not deal with whether Mr. Bush had sufficient evidence to detain Mr. Padilla per se. And he ordered that Mr. Padilla be allowed to consult with his lawyers, calling his need to do so "obvious."

The administration refused, asking the judge to reverse his order. It produced a declaration by the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, stating that Mr. Padilla was unlikely to cooperate if he thought a lawyer was trying to free him. "Only after such time as Padilla has perceived that help is not on the way can the United States reasonably expect to obtain all possible intelligence information from Padilla," Admiral Jacoby wrote.

Judge Mukasey declined to reverse himself, insisting that if Mr. Padilla were not permitted to see his lawyers and respond to the allegations against him, "I cannot confirm that Padilla has not been arbitrarily detained."

The government informed Judge Mukasey that it would continue to ignore his order, and it appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

While that appeal was pending, a Pentagon official, accompanied by two local police officers, dropped in on Mr. Padilla's mother at her office. The official began addressing her in Spanish. Mrs. Lebron, who was born in New York to a mother who left Puerto Rico in 1939, was furious: "I'm like, `You don't need to send me nobody bilingual. I'm American. I speak the language.' "

The Pentagon official told her that her son was O.K., Mrs. Lebron recalled, to which she testily responded: "How do you know he's O.K.? You saw him? If you didn't see him, don't come tell me he's O.K. Whatever you came to get, you're not going to get it."

The official left her with the greeting card, in which Mr. Padilla had included the account of a dream they once shared — a story "that only you and I know, with the exception of the people who read the card," he wrote, referring to the military censors.

Mrs. Lebron could do nothing but pray in response. "I know that God has my son in his hands," she said.

In December, the Second Circuit appeals court directed the government to release Mr. Padilla within 30 days or to hold him on "legislatively conferred" grounds — such as by charging him with a crime and affording him constitutional protections. The president possessed no inherent constitutional authority as commander in chief to detain as enemy combatants American citizens captured on American soil, the court said in a 2-to-1 ruling. Even the dissenting judge said he thought Mr. Padilla deserved to see his lawyer.

The ruling renewed a debate behind the scenes among the administration's top lawyers about what level of judicial review was appropriate in Mr. Padilla's case. Nobody had pushed for a full-fledged trial-like process in which the courts would be called on to make their own determination about whether Mr. Padilla was an enemy combatant, a former official said.

At least one very senior lawyer, however, argued that it would be prudent to make some "concessions" to Mr. Padilla's lawyers to help the administration's approach survive judicial review, the official said. Such concessions might have included allowing Mr. Padilla's lawyers to see the "output from his interrogations" or letting the lawyers ask him questions through his interrogators. Those ideas were never approved.

But in February, as it was appealing to the Supreme Court, the government decided to allow Mr. Padilla a supervised, monitored visit with his lawyers. On March 3, they flew to South Carolina.

Mr. Padilla looked clean-shaven with close-cropped hair, Mr. Patel said, and did not wear a Muslim cap. "He was attentive, responsive and polite, which puts him in the top 10 percent of the clients I deal with," Mr. Patel said. "He was very grateful for what we were doing. He appeared to be in good health, but I'm not an expert on the effects of long-term isolation."

Ms. Newman and Mr. Patel explained the limits on what Mr. Padilla could say with the government listening. After having fought for nearly two years to see their client, they finally sat face to face with Jose Padilla but could not satisfy their intense need to understand him better.

"I told him I had hundreds of questions and I was literally biting my tongue — but not now," Mr. Patel said.

Reporting for this article was contributed by Samar Aboul-Fotouh, Michael Moss, Lowell Bergman, Don Van Natta Jr. and Tim Golden.

Terror Suspect's Path From Streets to Brig, NYT, 25.4.2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/25/national/25PADI.html





















Safekeeping Faith and Tradition;

Bronx Mosque Provides

a Place for Prayer, and More


November 16, 2001


It is a recent Friday afternoon and tumult fills a former convent in the Bronx, where a center of Islamic life is blossoming.

A woman from Ivory Coast who lost her husband at the World Trade Center arrives to gather her 3-year-old son. A tumble of children in the basement playroom watch cartoons, distracted from the Koranic verses they can recite from memory. Outside, merchants gather up their alcohol-free perfume and inexpensive prayer rugs, their phone cards and embroidered caps, from folding tables near the steps.

The activity is taking place at the Jamhiyatut Tahaawun Islamic Center, the newest neighbor of Temple Emanuel, Parkchester Baptist Church and St. Helena's Roman Catholic Church, all residents on two blocks of Benedict Avenue in Parkchester.

Housed in a three-story red-brick building with a first-floor exterior of stone, it is a place where faith and the hard realities of immigrant life intertwine, where members of a growing ethnic minority -- West African -- find a religious, social and financial focus.

In some ways the center is typical of mosques in America. Worshipers come from a wide geographical area. They see it as a way of preserving traditions not easily accommodated outside its walls. Without a centralized body like a diocese or union of congregations, it gets by on a shoestring.

But the Tahaawun mosque is not closed in upon itself. When it opened its doors last June in this neighborhood, which was once mainly Jewish and Irish Catholic, the leadership sent a letter to the other houses of worship on the block expressing good will and a promise to be a good neighbor.

The mosque began a blood drive, started a food pantry and gave strict instructions to worshipers not to block traffic during Friday Prayers. It opened an Islamic school, preschool through third grade. It helps its members in a variety of ways: finding a lawyer, obtaining child health care through the city, providing some cash in times of need. And for Ramadan, starting this weekend, the mosque will prepare evening meals for its members to break the daily fast that is required during the holy month.

''This is a center where problems can be known and solved, where weddings take place, where, if a person is tired, he can come to rest,'' said Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, who is the driving force behind the mosque's growth. A former real estate agent and stockbroker, Mr. Drammeh (Sheikh is his first name, not an honorific) has taken the mosque's finances and administration in hand.

''It's a 24-hour place, and a center that covers all aspects of our lives,'' he said.

The mosque is taking another traditional New York path: the pursuit of political influence.

''Politics is no longer something we will ignore,'' Mr. Drammeh said. ''In order to show our voice can be heard, you have to show you can vote and mobilize people,'' he said. So, before the primary election, the mosque invited candidates to address the members.

Mr. Drammeh has other big plans. He keeps his ears open for buildings for sale or apartments for rent on the block, so members can move closer. And he wants to establish an investment club.

Inevitably, the World Trade Center attack rippled through the mosque.

Abdoul-Karim Traoré of Ivory Coast used to attend prayers. He was a cook at Windows on the World, and remains missing. ''I pray I will find my husband some day,'' said his wife, Karamoko Hadidjatou Traoré. The mosque helps by waiving tuition for her son to attend its school and providing financial support.

Mr. Drammeh has put up a picture of the towers in a main hallway. Stuck to the kitchen wall is a newspaper article with the headline, ''Muslim Scholars Endorse War on Osama.'' Mr. Drammeh denounces the trade center attackers as evil, but refuses to be drawn into a discussion of Islam's role. He says he loves America, and would rather be in the Bronx than in Mecca.

The mosque has been spared the hostility suffered by many Muslims since Sept. 11. That may be due to its efforts to cultivate neighbors, or to its relative obscurity.

''They seem pretty quiet,'' said Virginia Gonzalez-Watson, who lives several doors down. ''They keep the area clean and as long as they do that, nobody's going to bother them.''

Msgr. Thomas B. Derivan, pastor of St. Helena's, says that he is delighted the mosque has moved in, and that he has urged his congregation not to equate the Muslims who worship there with the hijackers.

West Africans, one of the fastest growing Muslim populations in the city, have a handful of mosques in New York, along with an unknown number of apartments where they gather to pray. The Tahaawun mosque lists 127 dues-paying members, but as many as 300 people appear at Friday Prayers. The membership comes from the three main Senegalese strains of Sufism, which is the dominant form of Islam in West Africa, but the mosque leadership strives to ignore the differences to avoid creating internal hostilities or alienating other Muslims.

The mosque is an outgrowth of a self-help association founded 10 years ago by West African livery-cab drivers, mainly from Senegal and Gambia. With money from donors, the association bought the 72-year-old building, which had been privately owned, after a bank foreclosed on it. The building had earlier belonged to the parish of St. Helena and housed Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.

The new school opened on the day of the trade center attack. Mr. Drammeh is principal; his wife teaches kindergarten. They, three other teachers and the mosque's part-time administrator all work as volunteers. The school now has 33 pupils: about half have West African origins, the rest have their roots in other Muslim lands. Tuition is $1,200 a year for preschool, $2,000 for the first three grades. But in practice, the families pay what they can. The school has state certification, Mr. Drammeh said.

In the small, mostly bare classrooms, which double as prayer rooms on Fridays, boys sit at one end of the tables and girls at the other.

The girls begin wearing head scarves in first grade, which is young according to most Islamic traditions.

''If we start that now, they will be accustomed, and the road will be easy for them,'' said Maryam Fofana, the third-grade teacher and the mosque's director of outreach, who helps members maneuver through the city bureaucracy.

The children study the Koran and its language, Arabic, every day. Even first graders memorize verses. When a visitor asked for a demonstration one day, Habib Gaye, 6, ran over and declaimed in rapid-fire Arabic the opening verse of the Koran: ''In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. . . .''

At midday Friday, the children break from school early and attend a worship service that is also part town meeting.

On one recent Friday, the mosque's parking lot was packed with the long sedans of livery drivers. The men mingled outside, where merchants were selling their wares. The women went inside, and disappeared into a separate prayer room. Soon all the prayer rooms filled with straight lines of worshipers.

Silence falls on the main hall during the wait for the imam. It is disturbed only by the click of worry beads and the shouts of children in the play yard of St. Helena's elementary school next door. A 6 train rumbles by on the elevated tracks a block away.

The imam, Samba Gaye, himself a livery-cab driver and a graduate of the Islamic Institute of Dakar in Senegal, delivers part of his sermon in Arabic, speaking with a staccato rhythm. Few understand him. He switches to Wolof, a West African language understood by most in the congregation. The message is to use speech judiciously and not divide people with words.

The time for prayer comes. On their knees, heads bowed, rows of men wiggle their index fingers in time with an internal intonation: there is no God but Allah.

''It's a beautiful mosque,'' Imam Gaye said later. ''A lot of people want to come here for education, to have peace in this world.''


Photos: Girls at a mosque school begin wearing head scarves in the first grade. Above, men at Friday Prayers listen to the imam's sermon about using speech judiciously. (Photographs by Edward Keating/The New York Times)

Safekeeping Faith and Tradition; Bronx Mosque Provides a Place for Prayer, and More, NYT, 16.11.2010,






The algebra of infinite justice

As the US prepares to wage a new kind of war,
Arundhati Roy challenges the instinct for vengeance


Saturday September 29, 2001
The Guardian
Arundhati Roy


In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: "Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday. People who we don't know massacred people who we do. And they did so with contemptuous glee." Then he broke down and wept.

Here's the rub: America is at war against people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.

The trouble is that once Amer ica goes off to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place.

What we're witnessing here is the spectacle of the world's most powerful country reaching reflexively, angrily, for an old instinct to fight a new kind of war. Suddenly, when it comes to defending itself, America's streamlined warships, cruise missiles and F-16 jets look like obsolete, lumbering things. As deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged. Anger is the lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed. Doesn't show up in baggage checks.

Who is America fighting? On September 20, the FBI said that it had doubts about the identities of some of the hijackers. On the same day President George Bush said, "We know exactly who these people are and which governments are supporting them." It sounds as though the president knows something that the FBI and the American public don't.

In his September 20 address to the US Congress, President Bush called the enemies of America "enemies of freedom". "Americans are asking, 'Why do they hate us?' " he said. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." People are being asked to make two leaps of faith here. First, to assume that The Enemy is who the US government says it is, even though it has no substantial evidence to support that claim. And second, to assume that The Enemy's motives are what the US government says they are, and there's nothing to support that either.

For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is vital for the US government to persuade its public that their commitment to freedom and democracy and the American Way of Life is under attack. In the current atmosphere of grief, outrage and anger, it's an easy notion to peddle. However, if that were true, it's reasonable to wonder why the symbols of America's economic and military dominance - the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon - were chosen as the targets of the attacks. Why not the Statue of Liberty? Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the attacks has its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the US government's record of commitment and support to exactly the opposite things - to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside America)? It must be hard for ordinary Americans, so recently bereaved, to look up at the world with their eyes full of tears and encounter what might appear to them to be indifference. It isn't indifference. It's just augury. An absence of surprise. The tired wisdom of knowing that what goes around eventually comes around. American people ought to know that it is not them but their government's policies that are so hated. They can't possibly doubt that they themselves, their extraordinary musicians, their writers, their actors, their spectacular sportsmen and their cinema, are universally welcomed. All of us have been moved by the courage and grace shown by firefighters, rescue workers and ordinary office staff in the days since the attacks.

America's grief at what happened has been immense and immensely public. It would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish. However, it will be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity to try to understand why September 11 happened, Americans use it as an opportunity to usurp the whole world's sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own. Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced.

The world will probably never know what motivated those particular hijackers who flew planes into those particular American buildings. They were not glory boys. They left no suicide notes, no political messages; no organisation has claimed credit for the attacks. All we know is that their belief in what they were doing outstripped the natural human instinct for survival, or any desire to be remembered. It's almost as though they could not scale down the enormity of their rage to anything smaller than their deeds. And what they did has blown a hole in the world as we knew it. In the absence of information, politicians, political commentators and writers (like myself) will invest the act with their own politics, with their own interpretations. This speculation, this analysis of the political climate in which the attacks took place, can only be a good thing.

But war is looming large. Whatever remains to be said must be said quickly. Before America places itself at the helm of the "international coalition against terror", before it invites (and coerces) countries to actively participate in its almost godlike mission - called Operation Infinite Justice until it was pointed out that this could be seen as an insult to Muslims, who believe that only Allah can mete out infinite justice, and was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom- it would help if some small clarifications are made. For example, Infinite Justice/Enduring Freedom for whom? Is this America's war against terror in America or against terror in general? What exactly is being avenged here? Is it the tragic loss of almost 7,000 lives, the gutting of five million square feet of office space in Manhattan, the destruction of a section of the Pentagon, the loss of several hundreds of thousands of jobs, the bankruptcy of some airline companies and the dip in the New York Stock Exchange? Or is it more than that? In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then the US secretary of state, was asked on national television what she felt about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that it was "a very hard choice", but that, all things considered, "we think the price is worth it". Albright never lost her job for saying this. She continued to travel the world representing the views and aspirations of the US government. More pertinently, the sanctions against Iraq remain in place. Children continue to die.

So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilisation and savagery, between the "massacre of innocent people" or, if you like, "a clash of civilisations" and "collateral damage". The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch mesmerised, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition of the world's superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world, whose ruling Taliban government is sheltering Osama bin Laden, the man being held responsible for the September 11 attacks.

The only thing in Afghanistan that could possibly count as collateral value is its citizenry. (Among them, half a million maimed orphans.There are accounts of hobbling stampedes that occur when artificial limbs are airdropped into remote, inaccessible villages.) Afghanistan's economy is in a shambles. In fact, the problem for an invading army is that Afghanistan has no conventional coordinates or signposts to plot on a military map - no big cities, no highways, no industrial complexes, no water treatment plants. Farms have been turned into mass graves. The countryside is littered with land mines - 10 million is the most recent estimate. The American army would first have to clear the mines and build roads in order to take its soldiers in.

Fearing an attack from America, one million citizens have fled from their homes and arrived at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UN estimates that there are eight million Afghan citizens who need emergency aid. As supplies run out - food and aid agencies have been asked to leave - the BBC reports that one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent times has begun to unfold. Witness the infinite justice of the new century. Civilians starving to death while they're waiting to be killed.

In America there has been rough talk of "bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age". Someone please break the news that Afghanistan is already there. And if it's any consolation, America played no small part in helping it on its way. The American people may be a little fuzzy about where exactly Afghanistan is (we hear reports that there's a run on maps of the country), but the US government and Afghanistan are old friends.

In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilise it. When it began, it was meant to be the Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out to be much more than that. Over the years, through the ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost 100,000 radical mojahedin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for America's proxy war. The rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. (The irony is that America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war against itself.)

In 1989, after being bloodied by 10 years of relentless conflict, the Russians withdrew, leaving behind a civilisation reduced to rubble.

Civil war in Afghanistan raged on. The jihad spread to Chechnya, Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued to pour in money and military equipment, but the overheads had become immense, and more money was needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers to plant opium as a "revolutionary tax". The ISI set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA's arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland had become the biggest producer of heroin in the world, and the single biggest source of the heroin on American streets. The annual profits, said to be between $100bn and $200bn, were ploughed back into training and arming militants.

In 1995, the Taliban - then a marginal sect of dangerous, hardline fundamentalists - fought its way to power in Afghanistan. It was funded by the ISI, that old cohort of the CIA, and supported by many political parties in Pakistan. The Taliban unleashed a regime of terror. Its first victims were its own people, particularly women. It closed down girls' schools, dismissed women from government jobs, and enforced sharia laws under which women deemed to be "immoral" are stoned to death, and widows guilty of being adulterous are buried alive. Given the Taliban government's human rights track record, it seems unlikely that it will in any way be intimidated or swerved from its purpose by the prospect of war, or the threat to the lives of its civilians.

After all that has happened, can there be anything more ironic than Russia and America joining hands to re-destroy Afghanistan? The question is, can you destroy destruction? Dropping more bombs on Afghanistan will only shuffle the rubble, scramble some old graves and disturb the dead.

The desolate landscape of Afghanistan was the burial ground of Soviet communism and the springboard of a unipolar world dominated by America. It made the space for neocapitalism and corporate globalisation, again dominated by America. And now Afghanistan is poised to become the graveyard for the unlikely soldiers who fought and won this war for America.

And what of America's trusted ally? Pakistan too has suffered enormously. The US government has not been shy of supporting military dictators who have blocked the idea of democracy from taking root in the country. Before the CIA arrived, there was a small rural market for opium in Pakistan. Between 1979 and 1985, the number of heroin addicts grew from zero to one-and-a-half million. Even before September 11, there were three million Afghan refugees living in tented camps along the border. Pakistan's economy is crumbling. Sectarian violence, globalisation's structural adjustment programmes and drug lords are tearing the country to pieces. Set up to fight the Soviets, the terrorist training centres and madrasahs, sown like dragon's teeth across the country, produced fundamentalists with tremendous popular appeal within Pakistan itself. The Taliban, which the Pakistan government has sup ported, funded and propped up for years, has material and strategic alliances with Pakistan's own political parties.

Now the US government is asking (asking?) Pakistan to garotte the pet it has hand-reared in its backyard for so many years. President Musharraf, having pledged his support to the US, could well find he has something resembling civil war on his hands.

India, thanks in part to its geography, and in part to the vision of its former leaders, has so far been fortunate enough to be left out of this Great Game. Had it been drawn in, it's more than likely that our democracy, such as it is, would not have survived. Today, as some of us watch in horror, the Indian government is furiously gyrating its hips, begging the US to set up its base in India rather than Pakistan. Having had this ringside view of Pakistan's sordid fate, it isn't just odd, it's unthinkable, that India should want to do this. Any third world country with a fragile economy and a complex social base should know by now that to invite a superpower such as America in (whether it says it's staying or just passing through) would be like inviting a brick to drop through your windscreen.

Operation Enduring Freedom is ostensibly being fought to uphold the American Way of Life. It'll probably end up undermining it completely. It will spawn more anger and more terror across the world. For ordinary people in America, it will mean lives lived in a climate of sickening uncertainty: will my child be safe in school? Will there be nerve gas in the subway? A bomb in the cinema hall? Will my love come home tonight? There have been warnings about the possibility of biological warfare - smallpox, bubonic plague, anthrax - the deadly payload of innocuous crop-duster aircraft. Being picked off a few at a time may end up being worse than being annihilated all at once by a nuclear bomb.

The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence industry. To what purpose? President Bush can no more "rid the world of evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints. It's absurd for the US government to even toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism with more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Terrorism has no country. It's transnational, as global an enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble, terrorists can pull up stakes and move their "factories" from country to country in search of a better deal. Just like the multi-nationals.

Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven's sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America's new war, he said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory.

The September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card from a world gone horribly wrong. The message may have been written by Bin Laden (who knows?) and delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been signed by the ghosts of the victims of America's old wars. The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel - backed by the US - invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel's occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list.

For a country involved in so much warfare and conflict, the American people have been extremely fortunate. The strikes on September 11 were only the second on American soil in over a century. The first was Pearl Harbour. The reprisal for this took a long route, but ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This time the world waits with bated breath for the horrors to come.

Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn't exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a way, America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI. In the course of a fortnight he has been promoted from suspect to prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any real evidence, straight up the charts to being "wanted dead or alive".

From all accounts, it will be impossible to produce evidence (of the sort that would stand scrutiny in a court of law) to link Bin Laden to the September 11 attacks. So far, it appears that the most incriminating piece of evidence against him is the fact that he has not condemned them.

From what is known about the location of Bin Laden and the living conditions in which he operates, it's entirely possible that he did not personally plan and carry out the attacks - that he is the inspirational figure, "the CEO of the holding company". The Taliban's response to US demands for the extradition of Bin Laden has been uncharacteristically reasonable: produce the evidence, then we'll hand him over. President Bush's response is that the demand is "non-negotiable".

(While talks are on for the extradition of CEOs - can India put in a side request for the extradition of Warren Anderson of the US? He was the chairman of Union Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas leak that killed 16,000 people in 1984. We have collated the necessary evidence. It's all in the files. Could we have him, please?)

But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden? He's America's family secret. He is the American president's dark doppelgänger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and civilised. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance", its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we drink, the thoughts we think. Now that the family secret has been spilled, the twins are blurring into one another and gradually becoming interchangeable. Their guns, bombs, money and drugs have been going around in the loop for a while. (The Stinger missiles that will greet US helicopters were supplied by the CIA. The heroin used by America's drug addicts comes from Afghanistan. The Bush administration recently gave Afghanistan a $43m subsidy for a "war on drugs"....)

Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric. Each refers to the other as "the head of the snake". Both invoke God and use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are dangerously armed - one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe. The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable alternative to the other.

President Bush's ultimatum to the people of the world - "If you're not with us, you're against us" - is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It's not a choice that people want to, need to, or should have to make.

The algebra of infinite justice, G, 29.9.2001, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/sep/29/september11.afghanistan















A police truck sat amid rubble

near the base of the destroyed World Trade Center towers

on September 11, 2001


Photograph: Angel Franco


The New York Times


The Records

Vast Archive Yields New View of 9/11















Three hours of terror and chaos

that brought a nation to a halt

It was not until a plane crashed into the Pentagon
that the scale of the full-frontal assault on the US
became apparent


Wednesday September 12, 2001
The Guardian
Julian Borger in Washington,
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles,
Charlie Porter in New York
and Stuart Millar


It sounded like a missile at first, the air above Washington filled with the terrifying roar of displaced air. Then the Pentagon was rocked by the thud of an explosion, and staff inside its fortified walls, who had been watching in horror the terrible images from New York, realised that the epicentre of US military might was also under attack.
The medium-sized jet had come in low over Arlington and the Navy Annexe, before screaming into the south-west face of the Pentagon around 9.30am.

"There was a huge noise and I got out of the car as the plane came over," said Afework Hagos, who was on his way to work but was stuck in a traffic jam near the Pentagon when the plane flew over.

"Everybody was running away in different directions. It was tilting its wings up and down like it was trying to balance. It hit some lampposts on the way in."

Omar Campo, who had been cutting the grass on the other side of the road when the plane flew over his head, said: "The whole ground shook and the whole area was full of fire. I could never imagine I would see anything like that here."

Barely 30 minutes after two other passenger jets had ploughed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, the Washington attack tipped the US into a panic-fuelled state of siege. In that moment, what initially appeared to be a catastrophic but isolated terrorist outrage was transformed into an unprecedented full-frontal assault on America and its people.

From start to finish, the terrorist operation took barely three hours. In that time, those responsible managed to hijack four US airliners inside the supposedly well-guarded confines of US airspace and use them to reduce the country's two most important cities to war zone-like scenes of carnage.

By the time most east coast Americans had turned up at their desks, the operation was already well under way. Just after 8am, the terrorists had seized control of two airliners minutes after take-off from Logan airport in Boston. Another flight was hijacked shortly after leaving Washington Dulles, while the fourth had just left Newark, New Jersey.

But even after two of the jets had ploughed into the World Trade Centre less than an hour later, Americans still had no idea of the scale of devastation that was yet to unfold upon them. President George Bush was in Florida, visiting an elementary school where he had been reading stories with some of the pupils. As the scale of the carnage in New York became apparent, he cut the visit short and in a hastily convened news conference, announced that he was returning to Washington immediately.

But just as Mr Bush was appearing before the cameras, reports were emerging that another passenger plane had been hijacked. Military officials in Washington had been informed that the aircraft was heading in their direction from New York. Minutes later, the capital was thrown into chaos.

Tim Tinnerman, a pilot, watched as the airliner - which he said was an American Airlines Boeing 757 - hit the Pentagon. "It added power on its way in," he said. "The nose hit, and the wings came forward and it went up in a fireball."

"It was a huge fireball, a huge, orange fireball," said Paul Begala, a consultant with the Democratic party. Another wit ness also claimed the blast had blown up a helicopter circling overhead.

Inside the building, there was pandemonium. Terrified civilian and military staff were screaming as a serious fire took hold.

Smoke and flames poured out of a large hole punched into the side of the Pentagon. Emergency crews rushed fire engines to the scene and ambulancemen ran towards the flames holding wooden pallets to carry bodies out. A few of the lightly injured, bleeding and covered in dust, were recovering on the lawn outside, some in civilian clothes, some in uniform. A piece of twisted aircraft fuselage lay nearby. No one knew how many people had been killed.

Red, yellow and green sectors had been established on a nearby road, prepared to handle the different degrees of casualties once victims were brought out, but rescue workers were finding it nearly impossible to get to people trapped inside, beaten back by the flames and falling debris.

"The fire was intense," Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, the Pentagon spokesman, told reporters in a makeshift briefing at a gasoline station across the street from the building.

"It's terrible in there," said one firefighter, Derek Spector, who was with one of the first units to arrive at the scene. "But we didn't come across any casualties."

The regular Pentagon helicopter pad was not usable, scattered with debris from the plane and the explosion. But helicopters were landing and taking off from a cordoned-off area nearby. Within minutes, ambulances and a busload of trauma experts arrived from the army's Walter Reed hospital in Washington.

Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the plane that struck the Pentagon was the American Airlines jetliner that had taken off from Dulles on a scheduled flight to Los Angeles. Among the passengers was Barbara Olson, the wife of solicitor general Theodore Olson. Mrs Olson, a CNN commentator, had frantically called from her mobile phone to say her plane had been hijacked.

A spokesman for her husband later revealed she had not even been due to fly on the flight. "She flew a day early to make sure she could be at Ted's birthday," he said. "She called and said she was locked in the toilet and the plane had been hijacked. She said they had box-cutters and knives. They had rounded up the passengers at the back of the plane.

She referred to them as more than one. There was nothing she could do. She said to her husband: 'What do I do?'" The call ended seconds before the crash. Her husband, who had been George Bush's lawyer during the legal battle over the disputed presidential election, was said to be distraught.

The brunt of the impact had been taken by the third and fourth floors of the Pentagon's outer ring, which housed senior navy personnel, including three-star officers and vice admirals. There were also offices used by secretaries of the different armed services and the assistant secretaries. A Pentagon spokeswoman said the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, escaped unharmed.


High alert

Across the country, America began pulling up the drawbridges within minutes of the Pentagon attack. President Bush ordered US forces worldwide on to high alert status - force protection condition Delta - and the authorities immediately began deploying troops, including a regiment of light infantry, in Washington.

As the aviation authorities worked frantically to account for the safety of all airliners in domestic air space, every airport was closed down and all flights in US airspace were ordered to land. International flights en route to the US were diverted to Canada.

In Washington, all government buildings, including the state department, the Capitol building and the White House, had been evacuated after the New York attacks and the nine top leaders of the house and senate taken into federal protection. But as fears of further attacks spread, public buildings across the country were also evacuated as the government began shutting down national landmarks, including the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty and the St Louis Gateway Arch. Even Disneyworld in Orlando closed its doors.

On the streets of Washington, panic set in. People rushed from buildings and desperately tried to get to their children in schools and daycare centres to make sure they were safe. Drivers ran red lights and sped across intersections, sending pedestrians scattering in a bid to get out of the city. Police near the White House tried to direct traffic, but a few blocks away chaos reigned, thwarting the efforts of emergency vehicles.

Wailing sirens from fire engines, police patrols and ambulances mingled with car horns, whistles and human cries.

"We are all sitting ducks here. We can't get out of the city. If they want to bomb the city we are all just waiting," one federal employee said.

"I feel like they are getting closer and closer with every minute," said Leroy Hall, a World Bank worker.

Just after 10am, the situation worsened again. Five minutes after the first World Trade Centre tower collapsed in New York, masonry started falling from the Pentagon. Then, without warning, a 40-yard section collapsed leaving a yawning gap from which flames continued to shoot. Stanley St Clair stumbled along the road away from the vast building, covered in dust. He had been working on renovations on the first floor of the section which was struck by the plane.

"It shook the whole building and hurt our ears. Papers and furniture and debris just went flying through the hallway and I thought it was a bomb or something. Then someone started shouting get out, get out."

Renovation work on the upper floors had just been completed and they had been handed back to the defence department. "This is the second Pearl Harbour. I don't think that I overstate it," Senator Chuck Hagel told reporters.

At 10.15am, another alert was sounded in Washington. "Get them out of here. We've got another threat coming," a policemen yelled, pushing survivors back from the building. Another officer said a report had come in saying another plane was on its way into Washington.

US air force F-16 fighter jets were scrambled, one of them banking steeply around the Pentagon, as the air around the defence department began to buzz with military and police helicopters.

At 10.27am in New York, the second tower of the World Trade Centre came tumbling down.

Minutes later, news broke of another crash, this time around 80 miles south-east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At 9.58am, an emergency dispatcher had answered a telephone call from a man who said he was a passenger locked in a bathroom on United Airlines flight 93. "We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked," he told the dispatcher, while repeatedly insisting that the call was not a hoax. The plane was "going down", he said. He had heard some sort of explosion and said there was white smoke coming from the aircraft. Then the dispatcher lost him.

The plane, a Boeing 757, which had left Newark, New Jersey, at 8.01am with 45 passengers and crew on board bound for San Francisco, had crashed into fields north of Somerset County airport. There were no survivors. "There's a crater gorged in the earth, the plane is pretty much disintegrated. There's nothing left but scorched trees," said one local, Mark Stahl.

There was immediate speculation that the plane had been heading for another high-profile target: Camp David, the US presidential retreat, which lies in the Maryland mountains 85 miles south-east of the crash site.

By mid-morning, the wide and normally crowded bridges across the Potomac were deserted and the scene resembled a city at war: deserted streets, billowing smoke and warplanes circling above. An elderly man, Tom O'Riordan standing in the shade of a tree near the Jefferson Memorial said he had not seen anything like it since Pearl Harbour.

A mobile secret service command center raced west on H Street, with sirens blaring, shortly after 11am as police drew a growing perimeter around the White House. Metal gates and yellow tape blocked access to streets and alleys. People scrambled to find working pay phones or reach friends or family on cell phones.

At 11.30, police cars again screamed up and down the roads around the Pentagon ordering passers-by off the street. One officer said there had been another report of an incoming plane heading down the Potomac river at high speed.

By midday, local hospitals reported receiving 40 victims of the attack, with seven patients in critical condition admitted to one facility for treatment of burns. Long lines of blood donors queued up outside area hospitals. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the city's Roman Catholic leader, said an unusually large number of worshippers, between 3,000 and 4,000, attended Mass at the downtown cathedral as the enormity of the destruction began to sink in.

By then, America had virtually ground to a halt. Almost every aspect of life, from sports occasions to family events, had been put on hold as the nation struggled to come to terms with what had happened. For several hours, the volume of people using the telephone service had made it impossible for anyone outside the US to phone in, and with international flights diverted away from the country, it had closed itself off to the outside world.

It was mid-afternoon before details of the hijacked planes started to emerge. The first announcement came from American Airlines, which confirmed that it had lost flight 11 from Boston to LA with 92 passengers and crew and flight 77 from Washington Dulles to LA with 64 people on board. Shortly after, United announced that the plane which had crashed in Pennsylvania was its flight 93, a Boeing 757 which had been en route to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey. It had also lost another plane, flight 175, a Boeing 767 from Boston to LA.



Across the US, passengers queuing for flights and relatives waiting to meet arriving planes stood in airport lobbies staring at the arrival and departure monitors and listening with a growing sense of bewilderment and dismay to the announcements over the loudspeakers. Every major airport has had its rehearsals for disaster but not since Pearl Harbour had the country experienced such a widespread series of attacks.

Los Angeles International airport, the destination for three of the four hijacked flights, announced a suspension of operations as soon as it became clear what had happened. Worried callers were diverted to the lines of American Airlines and United, which were trying to supply information of who had been on the flights.

The airport itself was closed to the public and its operations suspended with only key staff allowed to remain. California governor Gray Davis made the National Guard available to assist.

Grief counsellors were called in by American Airlines and United to be ready to meet the friends and relatives of those on the flights. Switchboards were jammed as people tried to get information from the airport.

Lieutenant Howard Whitehead of the Los Angeles police said: "We are working with all the other agencies and a total evacuation of the airport has been ordered for precautionary reasons. Right now everything is fluid."

Three hours of terror and chaos that brought a nation to a halt, G, 12.9.2001, http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,550535,00.html






3am news

US on war footing

as thousands die in hijack jet outrage

President forced out of Washington
as terrorists plunge passenger planes
into World Trade Centre and Pentagon


Wednesday September 12, 2001
The Guardian
Julian Borger in Washington
and Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles


President George Bush placed all United States forces on worldwide alert last night after a shell-shocked nation sustained its worst attack since Pearl Harbour at the hands of suicidal terrorists.

Three hijacked passenger airliners plunged into famous American landmarks, reducing the twin towers of New York's World Trade Centre to dust, seriously damaging the Pentagon, in Washington, and killing thousands of people. Last night a state of emergency was declared in Washington.

A fourth hijacked passenger jet, possibly heading for the president's Camp David retreat in Maryland or the capital, crashed in Pennsylvania, 80 miles south of Pittsburgh.

"This is an act of war, there's no doubt about it," said James Kallstrom, a former deputy director of the FBI. "It's everything that Pearl Harbour was and more."

In New York, rescue workers were still desperately searching among the rubble for survivors and pulling out bodies. In addition to the collapsing of both World Trade Centre towers, a neighbouring 47-storey building also fell to the ground hours after the attacks.

There was speculation that the death toll could run to many thousands, in what is without doubt the worst terrorist assault ever inflicted.

On board the four airliners used in the attacks, 266 people lost their lives. Up to 20,000 people normally go to work in each tower of the World Trade Centre, with another 5,000 visitors. In Washington, the Pentagon offices which took the brunt of that impact were filled with senior army officials.

As US forces were put on alert, President Bush was flown in Airforce One from Florida to Louisiana and Nebraska, finally heading back to Washington late last night. He the US would "hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly attacks".

"The resolve of our great nation is being tested," Mr Bush said. "But make no mistake, we will show the world that we will pass this test."

The US Congress was evacuated to an undisclosed location. Congressional leaders were due to return from their shelters and said they would make statements from the steps of the Capitol building.

In warlike scenes, aircraft carriers and battleships were hastily deployed off the east coast, and F-16 fighter jets circled above the White House, as smoke billowed from the Pentagon, the largest building in the world, and drifted across the Potomac.

A state of emergency was declared in Washington, as police roamed the streets shouting at pedestrians to take cover in case of fresh attacks. Military planes also patrolled the air above New York. They were the only planes in the skies. For the first time in US aviation history, all commercial flights were grounded.

The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was reported to be in the war room in the basement of the White House, from where he was coordinating the administration's response to the terrorist attacks.

The coordinated terrorist attack was clearly meticulously planned and apparently involved pilots able to take over the controls of passenger jets and ready to give their own lives and sacrifice scores of others.

All four flights that were hijacked were at the start of journeys to California, which meant they were fully loaded with fuel. Security experts believe that this may have been part of the plan of attack, as the fuel would guarantee a much larger and more extensive explosion than would have otherwise happened.

The United States is unlikely ever to be the same again in the wake of the onslaught. The country was hit, with great deliberation, at the very core of its economic and military power, presumably a message to Americans that they would never be able to consider themselves safe.

As the smoke was rising from New York and Washington, the recriminations had already begun over the country's anti-terrorist defences, and what implications the attack would have for the Bush administration's flagship project, the National Missile Defence system, designed to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles. It is unlikely that such a system would have been of much use against a band of suicida hijackers.

In an effort to reassure Americans, President Bush insisted that the US government was continuing to function.

"I've been in regular contact with the vice-president, the secretary of defence, the national security team and my cabinet. We have taken all appropriate security precautions to protect the American people," Mr Bush said.

"Our military at home and around the world is on high-alert status and we have taken the necessary security precautions to continue the functions of your government," Mr Bush said.

The first terrorist attack yesterday came at 8.48am, when American Airlines flight 11, bound from Boston to Los Angeles and carrying 92 people, flew into the World Trade Centre's north tower. It punched a gaping hole and set off a firestorm that soon consumed the top third of the tower.

Sixteen minutes later, as bystanders and television cameras were fixed on the blazing tower, a second plane, a United Airlines Boeing-767, carrying 56 passengers and nine crew and also heading to Los Angeles from Boston, plunged into the other tower, sending flames blasting out of the other side. Soon afterwards both towers, where thousands of business people and city employees worked, collapsed devastating the New York city skyline.

While New York descended into chaos, Washington was hit at the symbolic centre of US military power.

American Airlines flight 77, a Boeing-757 carrying 58 passengers, flew in low over the Virginia suburb of Arlington and plunged into the south-west face of the Pentagon, triggering the collapse of a section of the building.

"There was a huge screaming noise and I got out of the car as the plane came over," said Afework Hagos, a computer programmer who was on his way to work. "It was tilting its wings up and down like it was trying to balance. It hit some lamp posts on the way in."

A building contractor, Stan Hagaman, who saw the blast, said: "They say they do this in the name of God. They must be talking to a very different God from mine."

In Pennsylvania, United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 en route from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, crashed about 80 miles south of Pittsburgh. Its flightpath triggered fresh alerts in the capital before the plane went down.

Emergency services were reported to have received a call from one of the plane's passengers who had locked himself in the toilet, and who shouted: "We're being hijacked. We're going down." Minutes later there was a bang and the line was cut.

The US placed its military forces and facilities in the Gulf region and Europe on the highest level of alert, called Delta, the code for an imminent threat. "We are now on Delta, the whole world is on Delta," a US official said.

The navy sent aircraft carriers to the New York area and placed battleships along the east coast in preparation for other possible attacks.

The borders to Mexico and Canada were closed and the coastguard halted vessels approaching the coast to carry out searches as a state of siege settled over the country.

Freeways near airports were closed and military aircraft flew over major cities, adding to the sense of a country at war. Prayer sessions were called in churches throughout the country.

Planes bound for the United States were recalled in midflight. Britain, Israel and Belgium stopped all civilian airtraffic over their capitals.

Tony Blair called an emergency session of the British government's special security committee, Cobra. After the meeting he said that the terrible events should not be seen as a battle between the US and terrorism, "but between the free and democratic world and terrorism.

"We therefore here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in this hour of tragedy and, we like them, will not rest until this evil is driven from our world," the prime minister said.

In the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians celebrated, chanting "God is Great", even as their leader, Yasser Arafat, said he was horrified.

Traders feared that the horrific events might provide the final push to send the world economy into full-blown recession. The London stock market suffered its biggest ever one-day fall and the FTSE 100 index plunged by 288 points, wiping £67bn off the value of Britain's top companies.

There were explosions last night in the outskirts of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, where America's terrorist nemesis, Osama Bin Laden, has been given refuge, and a CNN reporter in the city reported missiles flying overhead. The White House, however, denied that the explosions were part of a US retaliatory strike, indicating that they were linked to the civil war in the country.

Afghanistan's hardline Islamic rulers, the Taliban, condemned the terror attacks and rejected suggestions that Bin Laden could be responsible. Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, said: "It was a well-organised plan and Osama has no such facilities."

US on war footing as thousands die in hijack jet outrage,
G, 12.9.2001
















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