Able Danger Blog

Click here to order Triple Cross in paperback now

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Maybe Larry should find a quarter

So he can call someone who has a clue.

On his personal blog "NO QUARTER" Larry Johnson complains:

Peter Lance presents inaccurate and misleading information about me on page 384 of his book. Lance writes:

He [Johnson] then compounded that mistaken assessment five weeks later with a Times Op-Ed piece entitled “The Declining Terrorist Threat,” describing al Qaeda as a “a loose amalgam of people with a shared ideology, but a very limited direction.”

Peter is flat out wrong. At no point in that July 2001 op-ed did I write what he says I wrote (here is the link to the op-ed, read it for yourself). At no point did I refer to Al Qaeda in that piece because I was focused on the broader trends in terrorism.

Lance leaves the clear impression that I minimized the importance of Osama Bin Laden. That also is not true.

Here is the May 31, 2001 article Lance was citing:

"To listen to some of the news reports a year or two ago, you would think bin Laden was running a top Fortune 500 multinational company -- people everywhere, links everywhere," said Larry C. Johnson, a former deputy director of the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. "What the evidence at trial has correctly portrayed, is that it's really a loose amalgam of people with a shared ideology, but a very limited direction."

In other words, Larry is not saying he did not minimize Bin Laden. He is not saying the quotes are inaccurate. The entire focus of his argument is which quotes came from which edition of the New York Times, the May 31st 2001 issue or July 10th 2001!

As far as whether his op-ed ever referred to Al Qaeda or Osama, judge for yourself. Here is the July 10, 2001 op-ed Lance mentions:

The Declining Terrorist Threat


Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villains in our popular entertainment, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

None of these beliefs are based in fact....

This is three years after the African embassy bombings and just six months after the attack on the USS Cole. Larry, if you weren't talking about Al Qaeda when you referred to "extremist Islamic groups" who the heck were you talking about?

Larry goes on to claim, "The debriefing and interrogation reports paint a completely different picture of events than the one describe by Mendoza to Lance." While, he himself points out that the reports he is referring to are not from Mendoza's interrogation of Murad! "Anyone see Mendoza’s name? Nope." Finally, Larry goes on to conclude this shows the PNP had no idea at all about the planes as missles plot:

There is no other reference in any of the seventeen (17) reports by the Philippine National Police referring to any plot to hijack commercial airliners and fly them into the World Trade Center or any other building in the United States.

First of all, Mendoza is not the only one who has said this. Among others, Lance cites the Presidential Spokesman of the Phillipines in 2001, Rigoberto Tiglao. In addition, Larry completely ignores the issue of Ramzi Yousef's laptop, which is actually the kwy to Lance's new revelations in "Triple Cross", not the interview with Mendoza which he already documented in "Cover Up" and "1000 Years for Revenge".

From page 185 of Triple Cross:

Mistrustful of U.S. intelligence operatives, especially the CIA, the PNP had decided to copy the Toshiba's hard drive before they turned it over to U.S. authorities. The presence of a radical Islamic cell in this heavily Catholic country - especially one that had threatened the Pope himself - was considered a threat to the government of President Fidel Ramos, a former general. So the NBI called in Rafael "Raffy" Garcia III, president of Mega Data, one of Manila's largeste information technology companies. Shortly after 9/11, Garcia spoke to Luis F. Francia from the Village Voice on the condition that his name not be used. In the Voice piece, one og the best accounts of the Feds' prior warnings about the 9/11 plot, Garcia told much of the story - but not all of it.

Realizing that the Toshiba was a key puzzle piece, I kept searching, and ultimately uncovered an obscure confession Garcia had written for a Philippines magazine not available in the States. So I contacted him just before Easter in 2005.

Garcia told me he owned a condo in the San Francisco Bay area and would be willing to meet on an upcoming trip to Los Angeles. He'd just bought a Mercedes SL65 roadster and was anxious to test drive it. On March 27, 2005, we had the first of two face-to-face meetings. Sitting with me in my Santa Barbara office, Garcia confirmed precisely what he had written in the Philippines publication:

Decoding Yousef's computer was not difficult. I bypassed the passwords and immediately accessed the files. This was how we found out about the various plots being hatched by the cell of Ramzi Yousef. First, there was the plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II. Then, we discovered a second, even more sinister plot: Project Bojinka. The planes would have come from Seoul, Hone Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore, and Manila. Even the airlines and the specific flight numbers had been chosen. There was a document where calculations had been made on how to set the timers on the bomb to be placed on each flight so that they would explode within a set time.

But Garcia was even more surprised to discover the audacious third plot. "We found another document that discussed a second alternative to crash the eleven planes into selected targets in the United States instead of just blowing them up in the air. These included the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia; the World Trade Center in New York; the Sears Tower in Chicago; the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco; and the White House in Washington, DC. Murad himself was to fly the plane that would be crashed into the CIA headquarters."

During our second meeting, in May, Garcia told me he was worried.

"I got a lot of threats after that story came out," he said. "There were people in the U.S. intelligence community that didn't want to admit that the full-blown 9/11 plot had been uncovered by the PNP in 1995 and turned over to the FBI." To protect himself, Garcia said, he kept a copy of the hard drive in a safe location.