The Washington Post

Clarke airs suspicions over Sept. 11 intel failures

Often depicted as allies in the fight against al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks, Richard Clarke and George Tenet resurfaced this week with new recriminations over intelligence breakdowns and blame.

Richard Clarke (Courtesy of the Penguin Group)

Clarke acknowledged his theory is not based on any evidence in a forthcoming documentary, according to a copy of the interview provided to the Post. But he says it is “the only conceivable reason that I’ve been able to come up with” to explain why the CIA failed to inform the FBI or the White House of the would-be hijackers presence.

Clarke goes on to say he believes “there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information,” all but pointing a finger at the CIA Director at the time, George J. Tenet.

Tenet, who has kept a low public profile since leaving the agency, posted a sharply worded statement on his Web site saying Clarke “was an able public servant” but that “his recently released comments about the run up to 9/11 are reckless and profoundly wrong.”

The statement was also attributed to two other senior CIA officials apparently named in the documentary: Cofer Black, who was the head of the counter-terrorism center; and Richard Blee, who served as chief of the agency’s Osama bin Laden unit.

The documentary, called “Who is Richard Blee?” and produced by FF4 Films, is timed to the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The Clarke interview is scheduled to appear for the first time Thursday night, on a PBS station in Colorado and on the Web site News of it was first reported in The Daily Beast.

The CIA was faulted by the Sept. 11 commission and other investigators for failing to share information about two Saudis who had been observed attending a terrorism meeting in Malaysia, and were subsequently discovered to have entered the United States. The men, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, settled in San Diego before taking part in the plot.

Clarke didn’t mention his theory during his famous testimony before the commission, which uncovered no evidence that would lend credence to his claim.

Clarke did not respond to requests for comment.

Greg Miller covers intelligence agencies and terrorism for The Washington Post.



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