FBI chief Robert Muller said yesterday at a
Senate hearing that the bureau all but ignored a 2001 memo
written by an FBI field agent in Phoenix who detected a
disturbing pattern of Middle Eastern men attending American
flight training schools.
The New York Times reports that the agent noted there were
a disturbing number of Arab men in the schools who might be
linked to terrorist groups, and he recommended a national
investigation of the situation.
Muller stated that to investigate all of the Middle Eastern
men in U.S. flight schools would have been "a monumental
undertaking," and that even though the memo "was received at
headquarters ... it was not acted on by September 11th. Even
if we had followed those suggestions at that time, it would
not, given what we know since September 11th, have enabled us
to prevent the attacks of September 11th."
While admitting his agency's failure, Muller further
defended the FBI by saying that the agent mentioned several
students by name, but that none were found to have had any
ties to the 19 hijackers, so it may not have mattered had the
agency indeed investigated the individuals named.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in a brilliant flash of
visionary hindsight, remarked that the memorandum was "much
more consequential than many of them that I read on almost a
daily basis now, much fuller, much more descriptive. ... It
was something that perhaps should have gone right to the
director of the FBI, and perhaps he should have even sent it
to the president."
John Edwards, D-N.C., stated more reasonably, "The American
people are entitled to know why red flags were ignored, and I
think the FBI has a lot of explaining to do."
Read more on this subject in related Hot
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