Criminal Negligence

Neil Lewis of the New York Times updates us on the Zacarias Moussaoui trial.

The F.B.I. agent who arrested and interrogated Zacarias Moussaoui just weeks before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, told a jury today that his efforts to confirm his strong suspicions that Mr. Moussaoui was involved in a terrorist airline hijacking plot were thwarted by senior bureau officials in Washington who acted out of negligence and a need to protect their careers.

… “I accused the people in F.B.I. headquarters of criminal negligence” in an interview after Sept. 11, Mr. Samit acknowledged under questioning by Edward B. MacMahon Jr. He said that the senior agents in Washington “took a calculated risk not to advance the investigation” by refusing to seek search warrants for Mr. Moussaoui’s belongings and computer. “The wager was a national tragedy,” Mr. Samit testified.

Mr. Samit said that two senior agents declined to provide help in getting a search warrant, either through a special panel of judges that considers applications for foreign intelligence cases or through a normal application to any federal court for a criminal investigation.

As a field agent in Minnesota, he said he required help and approval from headquarters to continue his investigation. He acknowledged that he had written that Michael Maltbie, an agent in the F.B.I.’s radical fundamentalist unit, told him that applications for the special intelligence court warrants had proved troublesome for the bureau and seeking one “was just the kind of thing that would get F.B.I. agents in trouble.” He wrote that Mr. Maltbie had told him that “he was not about to let that happen to him.” During that period, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, had complained about improper applications from the bureau.

Mr. Samit also acknowledged that he had written that David Frasca, a supervisor of the radical fundamentalist unit, had similarly blocked him from seeking a search warrant under the more common route in a criminal investigation. Some of the special court’s complaints dealt with the idea that law-enforcement officials were sometimes using the lower standard required for warrants in intelligence investigations and then using the information they obtained in criminal cases.

… The distinction between the two standards for obtaining warrants has since been eliminated following the Sept. 11 attacks. …

Although Mr. Samit was a government witness who sought to bolster the government’s case that he could have uncovered the plot had Mr. Moussaoui spoken to him truthfully, his responses to Mr. MacMahon today appeared to provide a lift for the defense. Mr. MacMahon sought to show that the problem was not with Mr. Moussaoui but with senior F.B.I. officials in Washington who would not budge no matter how hard Mr. Samit pressed them.

Remember, on several occasions Bushies have implied the Moussaoui investigation went nowhere before 9/11 because the FISA court wouldn’t approve a wiretap.

Moussaoui has already made a guilty plea. The current trial is to determine if he will get life in prison or execution.

2 thoughts on “Criminal Negligence

  1. So FICA is responsible for 9/11?

    Bush wants America to get past the bloody images of violence in Iraq..I can do that…I’m just having problems with getting past the lies and deceits that led us into Iraq. My problem is, that until Bush comes clean, I can’t hear a word he saying.

    It seems that George Bush and Hester Prynne share a common asset..Heaven has granted them both an open ignominy.

  2. One thing I have heard almost nothing about is that pre-9-11,Boosh was the anti-Clinton. If Bill did it, you can be damn sure dumbya didn’t. Mideast peace, Bin Laden etc, if it was important before it wasn’t just ignored, they went out of their way to do the opposite.This is intentional, deliberate neglect.

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