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In case people have not yet seen it (I hadn't) Philip Shenon has a piece up on Richard Clarke at Daily Beast that is creating a great deal of buzz.  Titled An Explosive New 9/11 Charge, the subtitle to the piece reads like this:

In a new documentary, ex-national security aide Richard Clarke suggests the CIA tried to recruit 9/11 hijackers—then covered it up. Philip Shenon on George Tenet’s denial.

This allegation has, according to the story, been out there for a number of years.   Clarke was recording in a video some time ago ago, and when Daily Beast contacted him he stood by the allegation.  Tenet and two close aides vigorously deny the charge.

The heart of the charge goes like this:  

Clarke speculates – and readily admits he cannot prove -- that the CIA withheld the information because the agency had been trying to recruit the terrorists, while they were living in southern California under their own names, to work as CIA agents inside Al Qaeda. After the recruitment effort went sour, senior CIA officers continued to withhold the information from the White House for fear they would be accused of “malfeasance and misfeasance,” Clarke suggests.

Clarke said that if his theory is correct, Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today “even if you waterboarded them.”

Clarke believes that the only way the informationm about the two terrorists could have been so widely known within CIA without it being passed on to him in his capacity as overseer of all counterterrorism efforts would have been at the direction of George Tenet, whom in the past he had considered a close friend.

A bit more below the fold.

I realize that this site has long prohibited conspiracy theories about 9-11.   In posting this I am doing so not because I am accusing the Bush administration of having done anything like ordering NORAD to stand down, or of having prior knowledge.   But an allegation by someone in Clarke's former position is worthy of some attention.  He brings, at least for now, credibility to this issue.  

It has always been puzzling how the two terrorists, who had left a monitored terrorist confab and been tracked into the US did not have information about them immediately turned over to the FBI, which had responsibility for counter-terrorism within the US.

As I recall, what made it even odder is that the two men, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, for a while stayed in California with a man who was an FBI informant, IIRC.   Had the FBI had their names . . . .

Let me close with what Clarke had to say about the two men.

He said that if he had known anything about Hazmi and Mihdhar even days before 9/11, he would have ordered an immediate manhunt to find them – and that it would have succeeded, possibly disrupting the 9/11 plot.

“We would have conducted a massive sweep,” he said. “We would have conducted it publicly. We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind, even with only a week left. They were using credit cards in their own names. They were staying in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, for heaven’s sake.” He said that “those guys would have been arrested within 24 hours.”

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