Able Danger Blog

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Read the damn book first, Larry

I wanted to leave my review of Triple Cross at the top of the page, but this was too good to pass up:

Peter Lance, Crisscrossed

by Larry C Johnson

Peter Lance is back hawking his latest book, Triple Cross. Unfortunately, it does not come with a “Buyer Beware” label. Peter, in my judgment, confuses self-promotion with analysis and is prone to jump to conclusions not supported by actual evidence. Consider for example Lance’s specious claim in his recent post on Huffington Post, touting his book and his accomplishments:

What isn't known and will be revealed for the first time in Triple Cross was that Ali Mohamed had been acting as an FBI informant on the West Coast since 1992 - a year before the WTC bombing carried out by the same cell members he'd trained.


Johnson goes on to quote from two news articles, both of which quote none other than Larry Johnson but neither of which claim Ali Mohamed was an informant since 1992 or provide any details about his handling agent, John Zent. My emphasis added. Lance has entire chapters full of details about Ali Mohamed and his inept FBI handling agent. Larry might know this if he read the book, but seeing as how it is not in stores yet, I guess he knew all he had to know from the cover. Leaving no truth unspurned, he keeps digging:

Peter does a slick job of intermixing facts and conjecture to create the impression that he has a special truth. Consider the following from Peter:

Using evidence from the SDNY court cases, interviews with current and retired Special Agents and documents from the FBI's own files, I prove in Triple Cross that Patrick Fitzgerald and Squad I-49 in the NYO could have prevented those bombings - not just by getting the truth from FBI informant Ali Mohamed, but by connecting him to Wadih El-Hage, one of the Kenya cell leaders.

Here’s the truth—there is not one document, piece of court evidence, or retired FBI agent that supports the claim that in the year prior to the bombing of the US Embassies in East Africa Ali Mohamed was recorded stating his intent to attack those embassies. Not one.

This is an easy one. Lance never said Mohamed stated his intention to attack the embassies beforehand! He said the FBI should have been able to stop the bombings by connecting him to Wadih El Hage. One of the articles Larry quoted describes the connection:

Ali Mohamed's testimony, which will likely earn him a reduced sentence, may prove particularly damning to el-Hage. The former U.S. Army sergeant, a naturalized American citizen born in Egypt, claims he worked with el-Hage in Nairobi and that during a visit to the man's house, bin Laden's security chief told him to surveil American, British, French, and Israeli "targets" in Senegal.

Of course, there is always that link chart Jay Boesen made in 2000 which shows two clear connections between them. First as personal advisors to Bin Laden, and second as associates of Abouhalima and the Brooklyn Cell of Al Qaeda in New York. Nonetheless, Larry continues:

Peter’s venom spewed at Patrick Fitzgerald is particularly crazy. Consider the following claim by Lance:

How was it that Fitzgerald, the man Vanity Fair described as the bin Laden "brain," possessing "scary smart" intelligence, had not connected the dots and ordered the same kind of "perch" or "plant" to watch Sphinx that the Bureau had used against Gotti?

Well, for starters, prosecutors in the United States are not like prosecutors in France. Fitzgerald and other junior prosecutors do not have the luxury of waking up each morning and deciding on their own to follow a hunch. Moreover, they normally don’t direct Federal investigations. The investigative part is handled by FBI agents who run field offices.

I'll have to quote Patrick Fitzgerald on this one:

I was on a prosecution team in New York that began a criminal investigation of Usama Bin Laden in early 1996. The team – prosecutors and FBI agents assigned to the criminal case – had access to a number of sources. We could talk to citizens. We could talk to local police officers. We could talk to other U.S. Government agencies. We could talk to foreign police officers. Even foreign intelligence personnel. And foreign citizens. And we did all those things as often as we could. We could even talk to al Qaeda members – and we did. We actually called several members and associates of al Qaeda to testify before a grand jury in New York. And we even debriefed al Qaeda members overseas who agreed to become cooperating witnesses.

But there was one group of people we were not permitted to talk to. Who? The FBI agents across the street from us in lower Manhattan assigned to a parallel intelligence investigation of Usama Bin Laden and al Qaeda. We could not learn what information they had gathered. That was “the wall.” A rule that a federal court has since agreed was fundamentally flawed – and dangerous.

"The Wall?" Hmm, why does that sound so familiar?