Friday, April 08, 2005

Bin Laden's mole

Did the CIA have a mole close to bin Laden? From James Charles in Dissident Voice:

"Rumors of the mole's existence began circulating within national intelligence circles about the time that the 9/11 Commission report was released. At least three separate sources told essentially the same story about CIA's infiltration of al Qaeda, and they - along with information from other sources - enabled the piecing together of this report. No one interviewed would allow their names to be used."


". . . according to one former CIA employee, 'It is entirely likely that Tenet told Bush about the mole at that August meeting at the ranch, if the president didn’t already know. Why else would he suddenly race off to Texas on a weekend? Not just to talk about what (Condoleezza) Rice told the 9/11 Commission was something that the administration thought of as an historical recounting of old information. It doesn't make sense.'

A second former intelligence officer said he harbored the same suspicions after news of the Tenet trip and the contents of the PDB became known publicly. 'The DCI (Director of Central Intelligence) simply doesn't interrupt the president's vacation to chat about a relatively innocuous, two or three page report unless there was something extremely sensitive the president needed to know that Tenet didn't want put on paper.'"


"It is viewed by insiders as entirely likely that the CIA director told President Bush in August that al Qaeda was planning an immediate attack using commercial airplanes as guided missiles."


"But with the existence of a mole inside al Qaeda increasingly likely, then there is a much more serious, insidious and sinister possibility: That George W. Bush knew at least a month before the attacks that they were going to occur, and chose to do nothing to stop them."

There are a few problems with this article. The fact that no one will speak on the record may mean it is just a few 'old school' CIA officials constructing a scenario to support the 'Bush knew' conspiracy theory in order to get revenge on Bush for his perceived slighting of the Agency. Regardless of what someone claiming to be bin Laden may have said, it is highly unlikely that bin Laden had the hands-on detailed involvement in the plot that the article assumes he had. The timing is also wrong, as bin Laden would hardly be giving Atta names as late as August, but there is reason to believe that the final nature and timing of the attack weren't finalized until late August or even early September. I've always had trouble with the financing story, which is very implausible as the Pakistani intelligence agency would not be likely to be that sloppy (although it seems certain that there is a Pakistani connection to the attacks). Finally, the article assumes that bin Laden had severed his connections with the Agency, which may not be true. Bin Laden himself may have been the mole!