Perfect Storm: How The CIA Shaped 9/11 Response And Aftermath

I hear this questions asked a lot. Was 9/11 an inside job? Whenever the subject is brought up you are automatically labeled a “conspiracy theorist”. No it was not an “inside job”, but I want to give you my perspective about why it happened. Here is a factual overview of the history behind it.

To think that someone in government said, let’s murder thousands of people for no reason is ludicrous. People throw “inside job” around irresponsibly because it throws any valid argument that you may have out the window and make any debater automatically lose an argument.

What 9/11 was and this is a fact, was the largest failure of intelligence in the history of our government. I think it is not out of the question that in some form, the United States should take responsibility for a mistake and perhaps they have. So many steps have been put in place to make sure it can never happen again, but has that been too little too late?

I think a rather unfortunate phenomena is that as time has passed we have stopped questioning the official narrative, and we have stopped holding our government accountable. Why actually happened on that day ? Remember there is always a reason to every action whether it be a simple answer or more complex one. In the case of 9/11 it’s a more complex problem over many years, but the facts and truth deserve to be told on the 20th anniversary.

Was 9/11 a surprise? Absolutely not. The Bush administration received daily briefings of a looming terrorist attack from Bin Laden for an entire year before the attack. Could we have taken more action to prevent it? Absolutely. This is the story about why it happened.

Before The Attacks:

Front page of International Section in The Independent newspaper December 6th, 1993.

Osama bin Laden was not a mystery man. Bin Laden was a great friend of the United States for a very long time. He was an ally. The Taliban were allies that helped bring down the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. We gave them our weapons, our bombs, and our military vehicles. The Taliban were frequent visitors to the White House throughout the 1980’s. He was even going on television to speak to world leaders and conducting interviews with respected journalists. He was an actor created and supported by the western world.

Bin Laden family in those years were a very powerful financial force. In the late 1970’s George W. Bush started an oil company called Arbusto Energy. He partnered with Salem bin Laden as a investor in his company, founder of the Saudi Binladin Group which is the largest oil and construction company in Saudi Arabia that still exists today might I point this out.

President Reagan meeting with leaders of the Afghan Mujahideen in the Oval Office in 1983.

Michael Springmann who was head of the American visa bureau in Saudi Arabia under the Reagan administration, came out in interviews and reports stating that he was encouraged to allow members of the Bin Laden family into the United States for training by the CIA in fighting Afghanistan.

Ex-Official Details U.S. Operations

“It was for somebody like the two Pakistanis, who were going to a trade show in the United States. They couldn’t name the trade show, they couldn’t name the city in which it was being held. A CIA case officer concealed in the commercial section demanded a VISA for these people within the hour of my refusing them. I still refused to issues visas, and he went to Stevens the chief of the counselor section and got a visa for these guys. It got to the point where I was told if I wanted a career in the foreign service, I will issue these visas. My staff told me to issue a visa and then write down on the application form who ordered the visa form be given. The papers were then shredded.

It wasn’t until I was fired from the foreign service that I learned from three good sources what was actually happening. Joe Trento the journalist, a fellow attached to a univeristy in Washington DC, and a guy with expert knowledge on the middle east who had worked for a government agenet. They said it’s very simple. The CIA and it’s asset Osama Bin Laden were recruiting terrorists for the Afghan War. They were sending them to the United States for training and for rewards, and then sending them off to Afghanistant. Most likely the problems they had with the liquor at the consulate, large amounts of it disappearing was being used to fund this.” — Michael Springmann (2004 Citizens Commission)

It’s no coincidence that 9/11 happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, because unfortunately after the “Mujahideen Rebels” were done attacking after the Soviets they had a lot of free time in a sea of poverty and destruction and weapons given by us. They started fighting each other, and eventually broke off to form Al Qaeda which Bin Laden became the leader.

This happened at the end of Bill Clinton’s last term in office. Unfortunately the Bin Laden family was already established in the United States and I mean living here. They were a respected family full of business owners that owned companies in Texas and elsewhere. The Bush family were very close because of his father that supported them with Reagan, but there was no way of knowing they would go rogue. This made them extremely more dangerous, because they had financial backing from ties around the world.

Now this was 1999. It’s hard to remember now, but the United States was a completely different country before the attacks. This was before we had mass surveillance on every telephone conservation. You could walk into airports with loaded rifles and box cutters and no one would blink an eye. Large city buildings really had no security like we have today. People didn’t have mass shootings or terrorist attacks on their mind. Anyone could walk in and walk out with no security cameras, and likewise our vetting process that allowed these hijackers into America was far less strict. You didn’t want to ruffle feathers by blocking immigrants for no apparent reason. We didn’t even have a Department Of Homeland Security keeping track.

Soon to be President Bill Clinton getting inaugurated with family in 1993. (Library Of Congress)

What does this all mean? Different departments didn’t communicate with each other and that is a fact. There were many warning signs and that has been documented, but there was a lot of red tape and bloated egos. The FBI didn’t speak to the CIA, the CIA didn’t speak to the FBI. The Pentagon didn’t speak to the CIA, and it was all very closed off. Nobody wanted to ruffle feathers, because if you got it wrong it would make the entire department look bad and budgets cut. That is exactly what happened.

This is not only confirmed by President Bill Clinton, it’s confirmed by Richard A. Clarke who worked with Clinton on counterterrorism from 1998–2001, and resigned in 2003 when Bush invaded Iraq as a top priority.

“Incredibly, the legal authorities we sought were not approved by the Congress in 1995. I had thought these issues were bipartisan, but the distrust and animosity between the Democratic White House and the Republicans in the Congress was strong and boiled over into counterterrorism policy. The World Trade Center attack had happened, the New York landmarks and Pacific 747 attacks had almost happened, sarin had been sprayed in the Tokyo subway, buses were blown up on Israeli streets, a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City had been smashed to bits, but many in the Congress opposed the counter-terrorism bill. Republicans in the Senate, such as Orrin Hatch, opposed expanding organized crime wiretap provisions to terrorists. Tom DeLay and other Republicans in the House agreed with the National Rifle Association that the proposed restrictions on bomb making infringed on the right to bear arms.” — Richard A. Clarke

This is what President Bill Clinton had to say about Bin Laden;

“After the Cold War, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack and search for Bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan which we got after 9/11. The CIA and FBI refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible while I was there. I left a comprehensive anti-terrorist strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clark who got demoted by Bush.” —President Bill Clinton (2006)

There truly was an honest effort during the Clinton administration to track down and kill or capture Osama Bin Laden and destroy the Taliban. The final year of the Clinton administration was the last idea of any effort to combat terrorism that was brewing in the United States until it was too late.

Aftermath of Alfred P. Murrah federal building after bombing in 1995, killing 168 inside. (Greg Smith)

After all we often forget the Twin Towers were also attacked in 1993. Three years later the Oklahoma City Bombings. Americans were very well aware of what terrorist attacks were even in the early 90’s. We had a decade to prepare for the September 11th attacks and we stopped preparing. We knew Osama Bin Laden was a threat for over a decade, and at the worst possible time to look away we became vulnerable and empowered Al Qaeda by our direct inaction to very real threats.

The Bush Administration:

As we head into the Bush administration we were left with a series of events taking place that prevented us from stopping the 9/11 attacks.

A first major blow from the Bush administration was actually demoting and then firing Clinton’s anti-terrorism task force led by Dick Clarke. For the first eight months of the Bush administration there was no counter-terrorism task force like there had been under the Clinton administration.

President Bush meeting with Saudi ambassador Bandar bin Sultan at his Texas Ranch in 2002.

In August of 2001, President Bush received memos of a warning of an upcoming airplane hijacking in a major city in America including the twin towers. In 2004 the New York Times even reported this paragraph.


“The warning came in a secret briefing that Mr. Bush received at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 6, 2001. A report by a joint Congressional committee last year alluded to a ‘’closely held intelligence report’’ that month about the threat of an attack by Al Qaeda and plane hijacking, and the official confirmed an account by The Associated Press on Friday saying that the report was in fact part of the president’s briefing in Crawford.”

We take threats much more seriously today, but the old mentality was the less you can do the better. The smaller splash you make because of hurt egos the better, and that’s exactly what happened to FBI director Thomas Pickard and head of FBI’s counter-terrorism task force John P. O’Neill.

Bill Clinton’s head of counter terrorism task force Richard Clarke along with John P. O’Neill warned President Bush at his Crawford Ranch. What followed was Richard Clarke being demoted and eventually let go by the Bush administration, and John P. O’Neill getting fired by the FBI.

“Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon.” — Richard Clarke (7/05/01)

Former National Coordinator for Counterterrorism Richard Clarke speaking during 9/11 comission.

You can read the transcript testimony of Pickard’s resignation, and what he personally witnessed the month before 9/11. The memos he wrote about criticizing the Bush administration as director of the FBI.

Transcript of Testimony by Cofer Black and Thomas J. Pickard

“They said the reports would also quote from internal memorandums by Thomas J. Pickard, acting director of the F.B.I. in summer 2001, in which Mr. Pickard described his frustration with Mr. Ashcroft and what he saw as the attorney general’s lack of interest in the issue of how the bureau was investigating terrorism suspects in the United States.” — 9/11 Commission Report

On September 10th 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft approved cutting the FBI’s counter-terrorism budget by $58 million, a day before the attacks. This led to much heated criticism that his actions in contempt of investigating and stopping bin Laden thwarted any honest effort at preventing the attack.

Heads-Up To Ashcroft Proves Threat Was Known Before 9/11

9/11 Panel Is Said to Offer Harsh Review of Ashcroft

John Ashcroft Leaves Behind Controversial Legacy as Attorney General

Commission officials said that Mr. Ashcroft might also be asked about why he stopped flying commercially on government business in the summer of 2001 — the department has said the move was requested by the F.B.I. in response to threats to Mr. Ashcroft’s safety unrelated to Al Qaeda — and his extensive use thereafter of a luxurious F.B.I. jet, a $40 million Gulfstream 5. The plane had been purchased for use in special investigations and for the transport of terrorists and other dangerous suspects. — New York Times

Following the attacks former oil partners of the Bush administration flew the Bin Laden family back to Saudi Arabia in private jets. Despite members of the FBI wanting to interrogate them. The family left without any investigation, without any questions asked, and without much coverage from the press. To this day no one will admit who allowed them to leave the country.

These incidences have even been showcased in media, television shows, and Hollywood movies. You can check out these films below.

PBS did an entire Front Line episode (S21E3) dedicated to showcasing the life of John P. O’Neill entitled, “The Man Who Knew”.

Hulu has a new series called “The Looming Towers” about the months leading up to the attacks and the politics involved. Actor Jeff Daniels plays the role of John P. O’Neill, disgruntled FBI agent who resigned.

Jeff Daniels on ‘Looming Tower’: “You Think You Know 9/11, But You Don’t”

Universal Studios produced a movie about the relationship the Bin Laden family had with the United States government, leading to 9/11 attacks called “Charlie Wilson’s War” starring Tom Hanks, Julie Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and many other notable Hollywood actors.

Michael Moore produced a documentary of the Bush administration’s handling of the attacks called “Fahrenheit 9/11” that was shown and theaters across the world and received widespread critical acclaim.

Instead of having Bin Laden as the top priority at capturing, President Bush made removing Saddam Hussein a top priority in a full blown invasion of Iraq. This was completely unrelated to Al Qaeda or the Twin Tower Attacks. During the Bush administration capturing or killing Bin Laden took a back seat to regime change. It would not be until 2011 when the Obama administration pulled troops out of Iraq, and adopted the Bill Clinton strategy again that Bin Laden would be successfully found and assassinated by special forces.

The 9/11 commission was setup to investigate any wrongdoing of the Bush administration prior to the attacks, and they actually uncovered a lot of material that was not supposed to be declassified. Much less has actually been published though, only by Freedom Of Information lawsuits.

The commission found that In January of 2000 the Saudi embassy in Riyadh and the U.S. Consulate in Jedda gave out students and tourist VISA’s to who would later become 15 f the 19 hijackers to fly planes into the Twin Towers. ABC news reported an article in 2006 about the failure to prevent terrorists from entering the country in the 9/11 comission.

“Terrorist ties aside, the applications themselves should have raised red flags, say experts. The forms are incomplete and often incomprehensible — yet that didn’t stop any of the 15 terrorists for whom the visa applications were obtained from coming to the United States.”

Heads-Up To Ashcroft Proves Threat Was Known Before 9/11

9/11 Panel Is Said to Offer Harsh Review of Ashcroft

John Ashcroft Leaves Behind Controversial Legacy as Attorney General

A Post 9/11 World:

After the Twin Tower attacks there was perhaps the largest transformation of the west in history, and it was acomplished in the name of consolidation in the shadows of the night. This transformation happened very quickly. We now live in a world where everywhere you go you are watched on camera. Every phone call you participate on is tapped by a National Security Agency and put on file. Every website you visit is monitored. The American public no longer live in a world where privacy is possible, and this happened willingly.

The American public were quick to give away their privacy and liberties for security from another boogyman attack. After having secured the passing of the USA Patriot Act, John Ashcroft would leave the Bush administration in his first term to form a lobbying firm. The Ashcroft Group help secure a multibillion-dollar contract with Oracle Corporation in 2005 to run the NSA’s and Homeland Security’s mass surveillance software. In other words, Larry Ellison’s dream of a nationwide criminal database came true.

‘’Do we need more databases? No, just the opposite. The biggest problem today is that we have too many. The single thing we could do to make life tougher for terrorists would be to ensure that all the information in myriad government databases was integrated into a single national file.” — Larry Ellison @ WSJ (2004)

The New York Times reported in 2002 that CIA officials were “very pleased” about what the Twin Tower attacks allowed them to accomplish.

“Sept. 11 made business a bit easier. Previous to Sept. 11, you pretty much had to hype the threat and the problem. Now the public clamors for it!’’ — David Carey (CIA Director)

Silicon Valley’s Spy Game

Former Secretary John Ashcroft speaking in front of Qatar government on June 11th, 2017.

In 2011 Ashcroft would became a director on the board of Blackwater, which secured a one billion dollar contract from 2004–2007 during the Iraq War. In 2017 John Ashcroft was hired by the Qatar government as a counter-terrorism public relations actor to “stop the spread” of accusations of supporting terrorism by surrounding nations and President Donald Trump. Just recently he was hired by Malaysian development firm 1MDB, who is now undergoing a justice department probe on the charges of money laundering, fraud, and theft of foreign aid to Malaysia paid by tax payers.

As we now enter the third decade of the 21st century, has anything really changed by future administrations to stop another attack? Has anything been done to bring greater transparency and cooperation with intelligence communities to prevent another attack in major cities across America.

The United States government to this day is still concealing papers from the Bush administration that would potentially link Saudi Arabia to any involvement in the training or attacks that conspired. To this day no member of the Saudi family or Bin Laden family have been investigated or prosecuted for any involvement. Even H.W. Bush came out before he passed away in called the administration which surrounded Bush “ignorant” and “iron ass”.

On the 20th anniversary of these attacks should we demand anything different? There is no denying today that the Bush administration directly benefited financially from the events following the 9/11 attacks.

The irony is that Saudi passports do not have to appear in front of a consular officer. Their immigration is automatically waved, and in the year 2020 this is still the case. In 2002 the FBI started an investigation into Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks, as 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The New York Times reports in January 2020 that the papers have still not been declassified, but former FBI agents who worked on the investigation have been interviewed to discuss what they found and are allowed to talk about. Just read the Phoenix Memos, where members of the FBI wanted to investigate flight schools for possibly harboring terrorists.

The Saudi Connection: Inside The FBI Case That Divided The FBI

“The circumstantial evidence has mounted,” he says. “Given the lapse of time, I don’t know any reason why the truth should be kept from the American people.” — Former FBI Special Agent Kenneth Williams

Parking lot of headquarters to the American Saudi embassy located in Washington DC. (AP/Photo)

In 2016 the “missing 28 pages” of the 9/11 commission report were partially declassified, and it revealed FBI reports that two of the hijackers Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi plane tickets were paid for by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. Prince Bandar’s name was highlighted as a potential player, the same prince that was meeting with President Bush months before and after the attacks. He secured the evacuation of the bin Laden family back to Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden Family Evacuated

The United States government to this day is still concealing papers from the CIA and Bush administration that would potentially link Saudi Arabia and other nations to any involvement in the training for attacks that conspired. To this day no member of the royal Saudi family or bin Laden family have been interviewed or prosecuted for any involvement. On the 20th anniversary of these attacks should we demand anything different from our government?

The more somber reality is that mass surveillance has not prevented one terrorist attack or mass shooting in this nation since George Bush signed the Patriot Act in 2001. Every administration since has renewed mass surveillance, and yet hundreds of Americans since have been killed on American soil by more terrorist attacks. Mass surveillance did not help stop the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013 that took three lives and injured 264, or the Vegas Strip mass shooting in 2017 that killed 59 Americans and injured almost 1000. The FBI, NSA, and CIA failed to prevent those attacks.

Perhaps we have not learned from our mistakes. In 2016 President Obama vetoed a bill that would have allowed 9/11 families to sue the Saudi Royal Family for their complicit actions in harboring the hijackers.

Why Obama doesn’t want 9/11 families suing Saudi Arabia

“ Obama said he has “deep sympathy” for the families of victims of terrorism, but that the legislation would interfere with the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy and trade negotiations. —USA Today

There has often been many things said about these attacks over the years, but in the 2020’s I believe we need to take another serious look at the events leading up to the attacks, and how they shaped a “perfect storm”. We have now had two decades to investigate what actually happened on that day.

When someone says “inside job”, it gives the implication that leaders in government would plot to murder their own people. In reality, there are very legitimate criticisms of the months and years leading up to the attacks. The breach of security happened inside our government. Gross negligence, bloated egos, politics very well may have prevented us from stopping it. Again these attacks were not a surprise and we knew it was coming. The bigger question really is, how much did we try to cover up our mistake? We may never know because the people involved will never say.

Flowers and balloons over the 9/11 memorial on the 17th anniversary of the attacks in 2018. (Time)

It’s important we keep this information alive and do not forget, because one day we may take for granted another real threat and later on regret that we took no action to stop bloodshed when we knew it was going to happen. We need to counter 9/11 arguments with facts not conspiracy. Using the wrong words will discredit the truth that deserves to be known. It seems that in recent years that any discussion of 9/11 is viewed as an unfortunate “accident” or that President Bush did everything he could do. I want future generations to know reading this that it’s really not as simple as that.

We need to stop asking how the Twin Towers fell, and start asking how we allowed the attacks to transpire the begin with. Twenty years after the attacks criticism still deserves to be heard. We still deserve our questions to be answered by government without reticule or harassment. What took place in the year 2001 was perhaps and hopefully the greatest injustice and failure of intelligence this country will ever know again. The actions taken in years prior by the American government and western world was a gift to radical Islam and the bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia. Decades later we are still too afraid to say the enemy by name. Have we learned from our mistakes or our we doomed to repeat them? We have a choice to stop the next terrorist attack before it happens. The American people deserve to hear the truth.

The goal of a terrorist is to take away freedom from the west, but maybe the greater reality is that western governments have taken away more freedom than any terrorist could have done alone. Is this the price we pay?

Independent writer outside of Boston.

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