Man seeks video of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing Associated Press



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

What some consider a far-flung conspiracy theory will be at the forefront during a trial set to begin Monday in Salt Lake City. The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was brought by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue against the FBI. He says the agency won’t release security camera videos that show a second person was with Timothy McVeigh when he parked a truck outside the Oklahoma City federal building and detonated a bomb, killing 168 people. The government claims McVeigh was alone.

Unsatisfied by the FBI’s previous explanations, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups has ordered the agency to explain why it can’t find videos from the bombing that are mentioned in evidence logs, citing the public importance of the tapes.

Trentadue believes the presence of a second suspect in the truck explains why his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, was flown to Oklahoma several months after the bombing, where he died in a federal holding cell in what was labeled a suicide. His brother bore a striking resemblance to the police sketch that officials sent out after the bombing based on witness descriptions of the enigmatic suspect “John Doe No. 2,” who was the same height, build and complexion. The suspect was never identified.

“I did not start out to solve the Oklahoma City bombing, I started out for justice for my brother’s murder,” Jesse Trentadue said. “But along the way, every path I took, every lead I got, took me to the bombing.”

The FBI says it can’t find anything to suggest the videos exist, and says it would be “unreasonably burdensome” to do a search that would take a single staff person more than 18 months to conduct.

Jesse Trentadue’s belief that the tapes exists stems from a Secret Service document written shortly after the bombing that describes security video footage of the attack that shows suspects — in plural — exiting the truck three minutes before it went off.

A Secret Service agent testified in 2004 that the log does, in fact, exist but that the government knows of no videotape. The log that the information was pulled from contained reports that were never verified, said Stacy A. Bauerschmidt, then-assistant to the special agent in charge of the agency’s intelligence division.

Several investigators and prosecutors who worked the case told The Associated Press in 2004 they had never seen video footage like that described in the Secret Service log.

The FBI has released 30 video recordings to Trentadue from downtown Oklahoma City, but those recordings don’t show the explosion or McVeigh’s arrival in a rental truck.

If he wins at trial, Trentadue hopes to be able to search for the tapes himself rather than having to accept the FBI’s answer that they don’t exist.

Kathy Sanders and Jannie Coverdale, who both lost grandchildren in the bombing, are grateful for Trentadue’s pursuit of the case. Sanders said she’s been waiting 19 years to see the tapes.

“It is worth pursuing,” Coverdale said. “I know there was somebody else. I have never stopped asking questions.”

But former Oklahoma Rep. Susan Winchester, whose sister, Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Clark, was killed in the bombing, said she is satisfied that officials have identified everyone responsible for the bombing.

“I was very comfortable with the decisions that came out of the federal and state trials,” Winchester said. “I have reached that point in my life where I can continue.”

Jesse Trentadue’s mission began four months after the bombing when his brother died at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City. Kenneth Trentadue, 44, a convicted bank robber and construction worker, was brought there after being picked up for probation violations while coming back to the U.S. at the Mexican border, Jesse Trentadue said.
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Jannie Coverdale leans on the chair of one of her grandchildren …
Jannie Coverdale leans on the chair of one of her grandchildren in the Field of Chairs at the Oklaho …

His death was officially labeled a suicide. But his body had 41 wounds and bruises that his brother believes were the result of a beating. In 2008, a federal judge awarded the family $1.1 million in damages for extreme emotional distress in the government’s handling of the death, but the amount was reduced to $900,000 after an appeal.

Jesse Trentadue’s best guess about the motive is that his brother died in an interrogation gone wrong by investigators demanding information Kenneth Trentadue didn’t have.

Jesse Trentadue filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2008.

Going toe-to-toe with the federal government has come at a personal price for Jesse Trentadue, 67, who says he’s lost time with his children and wife that he can’t recover.

But he has no regrets, fueled by his love for his brother. Just three years apart, the two shared a bed, hunted coons together and played on the same sports teams growing up in a coal camp in West Virginia.

Their paths diverged as adults — Jesse becoming an attorney while Kenneth fell into drugs and crime — but the brotherly bond never broke. Before his death, Kenneth Trentadue had overcome his heroin addiction and had a newborn baby at home in San Diego, Jesse Trentadue said. The brothers spoke by phone from jail the night before his death, with the two discussing how he would soon be out.

“What I learned growing up in the coal fields is that you fight even when you know you can’t win,” he said. “Because you have to make a stand on some things. Justice for my brother is certainly one of them.”




Israel’s Latest Genocidal Attacks Creating Humanitarian Disaster

July 28, 2014   AFP

30_Genocidal_Attacks• Targeting of civilian centers the IDF’s modus operandi.

By Ronald L. Ray —

On July 8, 2014, apartheid, terrorist Israel unleashed its newest round of genocidal war against beleaguered native Palestinians. Ostensibly part of a disproportionate reprisal for the June kidnapping and murder of three youths, Operation Protective Edge had already claimed nearly 200 Palestinian lives and wounded over 600 Palestinians in just six days. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising more violence against mostly unarmed Palestinian civilians, and a truce far from certain, AMERICAN FREE PRESS brings readers the truth behind the latest Zionist bloodlust.

One Israeli-American and two Israeli teenagers were abducted in the Israeli-controlled section of the West Bank on June 12. The official story is that Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, were hitchhiking at night in Palestinian territory, despite Israeli warnings against the behavior. The three youths lived and attended yeshivas in illegal Israeli West Bank settlements. At the yeshivas, the youths would have been indoctrinated into the Talmud, militant Zionism and violent hatred of Arabs. In fact, hitchhiking is a typical “rite of passage” for young Zionists, by which they assert their “ownership” over Palestinian territory.

Later that night, however, the young men were shot and killed. A burned motor vehicle with Israeli license plates was found with their bloodstains in it. The bodies, though, were not located until June 30. Despite knowing within 24 hours that the three were already dead, Netanyahu suppressed this information, leading to weeks of escalating emotions and protests on both sides. Daily Israeli air strikes on Gaza followed.

Falsely blaming the Hamas Party for the abductions, the Israeli government used the kidnapping as a pretext for trying to destroy Hamas in the Palestinian territories, discredit the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Hamas-Fatah unity government, and further expropriate Palestinian lands while wiping out more Palestinians.

In actuality, Hamas denied responsibility and was uninvolved. Evidence points rather to the Qawasmeh tribe. However, the clear and unusual failure of the Israel Security Agency to prevent the crime, and the use of an Israeli vehicle in its commission, raise serious questions about those really responsible for the deaths.

During 387 raids prior to July 4, thousands of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers invaded Gaza and the West Bank, detaining hundreds of Palestinians, including members of Hamas, elected officials and dozens of children. IDF soldiers stole at least $370,000 in cash and $2.5 million in property from individuals, universities, medical facilities and businesses. Offices of independent media, like Russian-owned RT, were raided and damaged, suggesting an effort to cripple objective media reporting.

Jewish extremists have executed revenge killings on Palestinians, and thousands of Arabs now have lost their jobs or work permits. Many are
afraid to leave their homes. Numerous houses, a mosque and two farms have been destroyed. Multiple Palestinian refugee camps were attacked by the Israeli military.

On June 29, Hamas finally retaliated with its first rocket barrage against Israel since 2012. The spiral of violence launched by fanatical Israeli officials began to spin faster.

On July 8, Netanyahu initiated Protective Edge—in Hebrew, Tzuk Eitan, meaning “solid cliff”—a cliff over which the Israelis intend to push the Palestinian nation. The offensive and surrounding propaganda obviously were long planned, apparently seeking permanent “pacification” of the Palestinian people, along with control of natural gas fields in Palestinian territory.

But while Hamas now is better armed and trained than before, they still possess no significant defense capabilities. The U.S.-funded, massively armed Israelis are “shooting fish in a barrel.”

PNA President Mahmoud Abbas rightly characterized the operation as “genocide” and the illegal “collective punishment” of an entire people for the crimes of a few. On July 10, Israel warned 100,000 Palestinians to evacuate their homes, suggesting imminent IDF occupation, but they have no place to flee, being confined by Israeli walls and military.

Israelis so far have bombed over 1,090 Gazan targets, leaving 2,000 more Palestinians homeless. They have attacked a hospital, three clinics and a water desalinization plant, and cut off water in some areas. Warplanes attacked worshippers exiting a mosque. Widespread targeting of Palestinian civilians has occurred, constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity. Some Hamas retaliatory rocket attacks, however, also have been directed toward civilian areas.

The World Health Organization and the Palestinian Health Ministry have appealed for $40 million to help prevent an imminent, Israeli-caused collapse of health care in Palestinian territories. One physician said, “We are working in a terrible situation. I did not have the necessary materials to stitch my trauma patients today and had to improvise.”

Ma’an News quoted Palestinian Ehab Nashibi’: “All my life, I never had anything against Jews, and I taught my kids the same. Honestly, now I’m changing my thoughts.”

Ronald L. Ray is a freelance author and an assistant editor of THE BARNES REVIEW. He is a descendant of several patriots of the American War for Independence.

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CIA Director George Tenet Facilitated 9/11


By Kevin Ryan

After becoming Director of the CIA (DCI) in 1997, George Tenet did what Louis Freeh had done after his appointment as FBI Director. He began to cultivate close personal relationships with the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Like Freeh, Tenet grew especially close to Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Bandar and Tenet often met at Bandar’s home near Washington yet Tenet did not share information from those meetings with his own officers who were handling Saudi issues at the Agency. The CIA’s Saudi specialists only learned about Tenet’s dealings with the Saudi authorities inadvertently, through their Saudi contacts. It seems that Tenet was operating within a network that surpassed the interests of the American public. Therefore the unsolved crimes of 9/11, attributed largely to young men from Saudi Arabia, should be considered in light of Tenet’s actions.

As Deputy Director for the CIA, in 1996, Tenet had worked to install one of his closest friends and confidants, John Brennan, as CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia. Brennan is now the DCI but, in his previous role, Brennan often communicated directly with Tenet, avoiding the usual chain of command. At the time, as an apparent favor to the Saudis, CIA analysts were discouraged from questioning Saudi relationship to Arab extremists.

The unusual relationship that both George Tenet and Louis Freeh had with Saudi intelligence (and George H.W. Bush) recalls the private network that was created in the mid-1970s to accomplish covert actions though means of proxies. This private network included disgruntled CIA officers who had been fired by President Carter, as well as the group known as The Safari Club, and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

The Safari Club resulted from an agreement between Saudi Arabian intelligence chief Kamal Adham, Anwar Sadat of Egypt, the Shah of Iran, and French intelligence director Alexandre de Marenches. The BCCI network grew, with the blessing of DCI George H.W. Bush, through the guidance of the Safari Club, which needed a network of banks to help fund proxy operations, including off-the-books operations required by the CIA. This private network was utilized in the arming of the Mujahideen, the precursor to al Qaeda.

The U.S. aid to the Mujahideen did not officially start until 1980 but went on for many years under the name Operation Cyclone. This operation relied heavily on using the Pakistani ISI as an intermediary for funds and weapons distribution, military training, and financial support. Evidence suggests that covert U.S. support for a “CIA within a CIA” existed twenty years later, when Tenet began leading the CIA, and that terrorist operations were among those that were funded.

tenet and bushThat possibility underscores the failure of George Tenet’s leadership of the CIA as the Agency failed miserably to detect and prevent al Qaeda terrorism. This failure might make more sense in light of British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook’s claim that al Qaeda was not originally a terrorist group but a database of operatives used by the CIA. In any case, it was almost as if Tenet wanted al Qaeda to not only remain viable, but to be seen as an ever-looming threat.

For example, in February 1998, Al Qaeda made public its second fatwah, repeating its declaration of holy war against the United States and its allies. It included the signatures of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the Jihad Group in Egypt. What did George Tenet’s CIA do in response?

  • According to CIA officer Michael Scheuer, “The Agency’s Bin Laden unit was ordered disbanded” in April 1998. Although Tenet rescinded the order later, Scheuer commented that “the on-again, off-again signals about the unit’s future status made for confusion, distraction, and much job-hunting in the last few weeks” before the embassy attacks.
  • In May 1998, Tenet traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Tenet and Abdullah made a secret agreement that Bin Laden, if captured, would not be given to the U.S. for trial but instead given to the Saudis. Recommending that the Saudis bribe the Taliban to turn Bin Laden over, Tenet canceled the CIA’s own operation to get Bin Laden.
  • Michael Scheuer claimed that, between May 1998 and May 1999, U.S. leaders passed up ten opportunities to capture Bin Laden. According to Scheuer, it was George Tenet and his deputies who rejected the proposals. 
Apparently two declarations of holy war by al Qaeda were not enough to compel George Tenet to increase his agency’s focus on Bin Laden. Not only that, Tenet seemed to intentionally back off pursuing Bin laden in 1998 and 1999, obstructing U.S. attempts to capture al Qaeda’s leader.

The result was the August 7, 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The date of the bombings marked the eighth anniversary of the arrival of American forces in Saudi Arabia. Just months before the bombings, the CIA had been warned by the Kenyan Intelligence Service that the embassy in Nairobi was going to be attacked by al Qaeda. But the CIA ignored the warning. Not only that, but the embassy bombings were “carried out by a cell that U.S. agents had already uncovered.”

Late that year, in a memo to the CIA, George Tenet declared war against al Qaeda. He wrote that “Our work to date has been remarkable and in some cases heroic” but “we must now redouble our efforts against Bin Ladin himself, his infrastructure, followers, finances, etc with a sense of enormous urgency.” He said, “We are at war…. I want no resources or people spared… either inside CIA or the [U.S. intelligence] community.”

Although meetings were held, Tenet did not attend them and his deputy went only once. The meetings were attended by few if any officers from other agencies and quickly stopped addressing the fight against al Qaeda. No other plan was made at the CIA or elsewhere in the U.S. intelligence community, as a result of this declaration of war by Tenet, to defeat al Qaeda.

Despite the attempts by Tenet and others to hype the threat from Bin Laden and his alleged network, as of August 1999 not even The Washington Post appeared to be convinced of the threat. Reporters Colum Lynch and Vernon Loeb at the Post questioned the emerging legend of al Qaeda by writing, “for all its claims about a worldwide conspiracy to murder Americans, the government’s case is, at present, largely circumstantial. The indictment never explains how bin Laden runs al Qaeda or how he may have masterminded the embassy bombings.”

Behind the scenes, Tenet’s lack of action suggested that he was also unconcerned. An example was given in March 1999 when German intelligence provided to the CIA the mobile phone number and first name of one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers—Marwan Al-Shehhi. The CIA did nothing with the information. Although Tenet later dismissed its importance, others said that the number could have been easily traced, leading to the capture of Al-Shehhi.

Additionally, the CIA appeared “to have been investigating the man who recruited the [alleged 9/11] hijackers at the time he was recruiting them.” Although there is no evidence that the CIA took actions to stop the plot as it was unfolding, there were many interesting leads to follow. For example, in the summer of 1999 Bin Laden was reportedly given $50 million by a group of oil-rich sheikhs. The New York Times reported on this gift which came via a single bank transfer: “The Central Intelligence Agency has obtained evidence that Mr. Bin Laden has been allowed to funnel money through the Dubai Islamic Bank in Dubai, which the United Arab Emirates Government effectively controls.”

The links between al Qaeda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were far greater, however. These included that the alleged plot architect Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) was said to be living in Sharjah, UAE as of 1999. Sharjah was reportedly a major center of al Qaeda activity at the time. One of the alleged hijackers, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, was from Sharjah, as was alleged plot financier Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi. All of the alleged 9/11 hijackers traveled through the UAE on their way to the United States, other than Mohamed Atta, Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar, the latter of whom was said to be the one to facilitate the travel of the others. Accused hijacker pilot Ziad Jarrah was detained and questioned in January 2000 at Dubai Airport. However, CIA and UAE officials failed to warn German intelligence about Jarrah, who traveled on to Hamburg.

Overall, the lack of communication and action taken by DCI Tenet regarding the men who would be accused of perpetrating the 9/11attacks was reflective of the same attitude exhibited by FBI Director Louis Freeh. With the strong ties between Tenet’s good friendClarke and the UAE, it would seem that much could have been done to stop the 9/11 attacks long before they happened.

Perhaps coincidentally, the CIA’s tracking of two 9/11 suspects who did not travel to the U.S. through the UAE has been reported extensively. This began with the monitoring of a January 2000 meeting in Malaysia attended by KSM and several other alleged al Qaeda leaders. The meeting included the two alleged 9/11 hijackers Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi. These are the two suspects who Tenet claimed the CIA had been looking for only in the few weeks before 9/11. The CIA must not have been looking too hard because when the two suspects came to the U.S., they lived in San Diego with an FBI asset.

With regard to the CIA’s failed communications prior to 9/11, author Kevin Fenton lets Tenet off the hook, saying that there is “no evidence of [Tenet] doing anything intentionally wrong before the attacks. Fenton acknowledges that Tenet lied extensively in testimony to the Joint Congressional Inquiry, and that he gave “a string of evasive answers” to the 9/11 Commission. Yet Fenton’s premise is that low-level CIA and FBI officers kept a secret plan [the hiding of evidence about the two suspects] from their superiors.

The facts, however, suggest that high-level CIA leadership was behind the orders to hide the evidence about Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi. Examples include the failure of the CIA station in Bangkok to communicate that the two suspects had left Thailand for the U.S., and the order referenced by the CIA station chief in Kuala Lumpur when he said that he was not supposed to show certain photographs related to the men. Although that order was disobeyed, and the surveillance photos of the Malaysia meeting were shared with FBI officers, such an order to a CIA station chief could not have come from low-level officers. Control of multiple CIA stations could only come from the top.

While the CIA withheld information about Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi living in the United States, Tenet simultaneously kept the threat hype going. A month after the Malaysia meeting, he told the U.S. Senate that Bin Laden was planning “to strike further blows against America.”

Despite this apparent threat, Tenet had not ordered a National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism in his entire tenure, the last one having been produced in 1997. According to the 9/11 Commission, Tenet finally recognized this need and charged the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center with making a strategic assessment. But as with so many other coincidences, the person who was to lead the assessment didn’t start work until the day before 9/11.

U.S. intelligence officers later said they were told to back-off investigation of Bin Laden and the Saudis. After the Bush Administration took over in January 2001, there was a “major policy shift” at the National Security Agency in that OBL could still be investigated, but they could not look at where he got his money.

Adding to suspicions about Tenet are the mysterious links between Tenet’s mentor, David Boren, and training for the alleged hijackers. Currently the co-chair of President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Boren is the long-time president of the University of Oklahoma, which has its own airport. In the years before 9/11, the FBI came to the airport several times to talk to people there about the training of terrorism suspects. It was later learned that the university airport was where Zacarias Moussaoui trained to fly, and that Mohamed Atta and other alleged hijackers had called, emailed and visited the airport in the two years before 9/11.

These clues were ignored as Tenet refused to cooperate with the official investigations into the events of 9/11 and as he lied to representatives of the U.S. Congress. Tenet lied to the 9/11 Commission about having met with President Bush in the month before the attacks. He lied under oath about CIA foreknowledge of the alleged hijackers, and he lied to the 9/11 Commission by failing to tell them about torture videos that his subordinates later destroyed.

The facts show that, as DCI from 1997 to 2004, Tenet was responsible for an agency that had, at the very least, failed miserably to perform its duties related to counterterrorism. Overall the evidence suggests that, as with Louis Freeh and the FBI, some of those failures were intentional. Concerns that Tenet and Freeh had developed secret paths of communication with Saudi authorities, and that they might have disrupted plans to capture or investigate al Qaeda suspects, were never addressed. Therefore, an ongoing investigation into 9/11 should include George Tenet and his actions leading up to the attacks.


Thomas Kean & Lee Hamilton Call For The Release Of The 28 Redacted Pages – 7/22/2014

FBI pushed Muslims to plot terrorist attacks: rights report






File picture shows Muslim men praying on Madison Avenue in New York just before the 27th annual Muslim Day Parade in New York on September 23, 2012

Washington (AFP) – The FBI encouraged and sometimes even paid Muslims to commit terrorist acts during numerous sting operations after the 9/11 attacks, a human rights group said in a report published Monday.


“Far from protecting Americans, including American Muslims, from the threat of terrorism, the policies documented in this report have diverted law enforcement from pursuing real threats,” said the report by Human Rights Watch.

Aided by Columbia University Law School’s Human Rights Institute, Human Rights Watch examined 27 cases from investigation through trial, interviewing 215 people, including those charged or convicted in terrorism cases, their relatives, defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges.

“In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act,” the report said.

In the cases reviewed, half the convictions resulted from a sting operation, and in 30 percent of those cases the undercover agent played an active role in the plot.

“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US,” said Andrea Prasow, the rights group’s deputy Washington director.

“But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.”

US Attorney General Eric Holder has strongly defended the FBI undercover operations as “essential in fighting terrorism.”

“These operations are conducted with extraordinary care and precision, ensuring that law enforcement officials are accountable for the steps they take -– and that suspects are neither entrapped nor denied legal protections,” Holder said July 8 during a visit to Norway.

The HRW report, however, cites the case of four Muslim converts from Newburgh, New York who were accused of planning to blow up synagogues and attack a US military base.

A judge in that case “said the government ‘came up with the crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles,’ and had, in the process, made a terrorist out of a man ‘whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope,'” the report said.

The rights group charged that the FBI often targets vulnerable people, with mental problems or low intelligence.

It pointed to the case of Rezwan Ferdaus, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison at age 27 for wanting to attack the Pentagon and Congress with mini-drones loaded with explosives.

An FBI agent told Ferdaus’ father that his son “obviously” had mental health problems, the report said. But that didn’t stop an undercover agent from conceiving the plot in its entirety, it said.

“The US government should stop treating American Muslims as terrorists-in-waiting,” the report concluded.

Mike German, a former FBI agent now with the Brennan Center, said FBI counterterrorism excesses were a source of concern — “concerns that they both violate privacy and civil liberties, and aren’t effective in addressing real threats.”

But JM Berger, a national security expert, said law enforcement faces a dilemma: it can’t just ignore tips or reports about people talking about wanting to commit a terrorist action or seeking support for one.

“The question is how to sort out which cases merit investigation and which do not,” he said.



9/11 Commission Report A Decade Later: Threats Have Evolved, U.S. Hasn’t




WASHINGTON — The authors of the seminal 9/11 Commission report have produced a new study, a decade after the first, painting an often alarming picture of the country’s vulnerability to another terrorist attack.

The report, released Tuesday, praises some federal actions for making the country ”better equipped to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks than in 2001.” The commission, led by Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, points to the federalization of airport security, upgraded security at ports of entry, and the devotion of hundreds of billions of dollars to the intelligence community as policy movements in the right direction

Yet the report finds foreboding gaps. The authors argue that the U.S. remains under-resourced on cyber-terrorism and under-appreciative of emerging threats, predominantly in the Middle East. They note that while core al Qaeda “has been damaged in recent years, its affiliates and associated groups … now have a presence in more theaters of operation than they did half a decade ago, operating today in at least 16 countries.”

Titled “Today’s Rising Terrorist Threat and the Danger to the United States,” the report, released in conjunction with the Bipartisan Policy Center, is meant to map out the progress and continued shortcomings of America’s anti-terrorism policy. It spends more ink on the latter than the former. The authors seem particularly unsparing with Congress.

The legislative branch just doesn’t seem to get oversight right, as Kean and Hamilton see it. The authors note that in 2004, they were astonished to learn that the Department of Homeland Security reported to 88 committees and subcommittees of Congress.

“Incredibly,” they write, “Congress over the past ten years has increased this plethora of oversight bodies to 92.”

Kean and Hamilton recommend that Congress reduce the number of committees with jurisdiction over DHS, or simply empower one primary authorizing committee.

Meanwhile, the authors argue that Congress’ thumbprint is too faint elsewhere. Lawmakers, they write, need to provide “additional oversight” over the National Security Agency data-collection programs that were revealed by Edward Snowden.

Kean and Hamilton argue that these NSA “programs are worth preserving,” but they see a downside in lax checks and balances. They reference the need to protect civil liberties almost in passing, spending more time expressing concern that the NSA will suffer staffing shortages as young, computer-savvy Americans recoil at working there.

While there was a post-9/11 upsurge in the number of young people applying for national security jobs, recent headwinds appear to have seriously affected recruiting efforts. We see at least two potential factors behind this troubling trend. One is the Edward Snowden leaks, which may have dented young Americans’ enthusiasm for national security work. NSA applications reportedly fell by one-third in the wake of these disclosures, and the NSA was apparently disinvited from conferences at which it had recruited in the past…. A second factor is what we see as a waning sense of urgency on this issue, particularly among a younger generation for whom the 9/11 attacks were not a formative experience.

Finally, the authors urge Congress to get more involved (not less) in litigating the war on terror. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force needs to be updated, they argue, “to track the evolution of the terrorist threat.” Kean and Hamilton express skepticism that that authorization was legally sound for dealing with the rise of ISIS in Iraq. But the need for a new legal foundation is about more than just emerging threats in the Middle East.

“The Constitution assigns Congress a central constitutional role in authorizing the use of military force,” the report says. “Congressional approval also confers greater legitimacy, both at home and in the eyes of the world. Whatever course is ultimately chosen, this is not a decision that can or should be taken by the executive branch alone. Continuing to indefinitely rely on the September 2001 AUMF without further congressional action threatens to erode the constitutionally mandated separation of powers.”

Four in Ten Bostonians Skeptical of Official Marathon Bombing Account



Dzohkhar Tsarnaev in 2010.

A recent poll conducted by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense team, part of an effort to force a change of venue for his trial, found that a majority of Bostonians—58 percent—are already convinced the accused Marathon bomber is “definitely guilty.”

That may be persuasive to the presiding judge. But what’s perhaps more interesting is that the poll found a sizable number of Boston residents—42 percent—are still “unsure,” indicating that even the population with the closest proximity to the April 15, 2013, act of terrorism still harbor doubts about the “official” version of events.

Without seeing the evidence the government claims to have of the younger Tsarnaev’s guilt, and due to many anomalies and lingering questions about the bombing and its aftermath, we’re siding with the 42 percent who just aren’t sure yet.

Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe recently expressed surprise about the poll’s results in a column in which he wrote: “Call me Pollyanna, but I’m shocked they were able to find the 42 percent who don’t think he’s guilty.” While people answering that they’re unsure about Tsarnaev’s guilt isn’t the same as thinking he’s innocent, it does reflect a substantial feeling that the jury is still out in many Bostonians’ minds.

Cullen’s surprise makes sense when one considers the nature of the event, with its gut-wrenching imagery and suspenseful days-long manhunt. After an experience like that, it’s understandable that Bostonians would want someone to hang.

And from the beginning, law-enforcement along with the vast majority of the media have implied that the evidence against Tsarnaev is so airtight, and that his guilt is so self-evident, that it’s bordering on the absurd to assert some things in the official version may not be exactly as we’ve been told.

You Can’t Fool All the People All the Time

The problem, as 42 percent of Bostonians apparently recognize, is that nobody has seen any evidence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s involvement in the actual bombing. It appears to many that there is likely more to this story than the simplistic, “self-radicalized lone wolves” yarn being spun by law enforcement and the mainstream media.

It does appear that these brothers were somehow involved in the violence. However, serious doubts remain with the government’s version of events.

We’ve been told that the brothers:

• Built, placed and detonated the “highly sophisticated” bombs

• Killed Officer Sean Collier execution-style

• Hijacked a Chinese national who made a daring escape

• Set off a chase that culminated in the Watertown shootout, the death of Tamerlan, and the subsequent capture of Dzhokhar in a dry-docked boat

 Most importantly, we’ve been told they did all of this alone.

We’ve also been informed that neither the FBI nor any other federal agencies had any contact with the brothers—directly or indirectly—after the agency closed its investigation into Tamerlan and his mother in 2011.

In the absence so far of hard evidence implicating the brothers as the sole perpetrators, many Bostonians appear to have kept an open mind.

In this, they may have been influenced by their familiarity with the FBI’s history of covering up embarrassing relationships to bad guys, like the one local agents had with the murderous Boston mobster Whitey Bulger—not to mention the Bureau’s less-than-stellar record of transparency regarding major events like 9/11. And that doesn’t even take into account some of the geopolitical and national security implications swirling around the case.

In other words—many reasonable doubts still exist.

Here’s a few of them:

• “Danny,” the main witness to Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s alleged confession to the Marathon bombing, and the shooting of Sean Collier, changed significant parts of his story over time, thereby undermining his credibility. And he is a budding entrepreneur with an uncertain immigration status—an easy target for law enforcement manipulation (For our two-part discussion on the reasonable doubts about Danny’s story, see here and here).

• As far as we know, there are no eyewitnesses to the shooting of Sean Collier. The security camera footage that supposedly recorded them attacking Collier has not been shown to the public. Additionally, at least three different law enforcement officials told the New York Times that the video in question does not show the attackers’ faces.

• There was an armed felon in the vicinity of Vassar Street around that same time who had just robbed a 7-Eleven at gunpoint. He’s still at large.

• The brothers supposedly shot and killed Collier for his gun, but didn’t take it. They also managed to avoid getting any blood on themselves, when one or both of them allegedly tried to wrestle Collier’s pistol from his bleeding body.

• The FBI initially denied knowing who the brothers were until Russia called them out on it. Was the FBI—or another federal agency—hiding something?

• The FBI’s assertions that its investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev was limited by a concern for his civil liberties are not credible. Since its inception, the FBI has routinely ignored the Bill of Rights, particularly, in recent years, when it comes to Muslims.

• Prior to the bombing, Tamerlan Tsarnaev somehow evaded being detained at the airport not once but twice, despite being on two different no-fly lists To get an idea of the frequency with which the government routinely allows individuals with questionable associations to travel in and out of our country as they please, see here and here.

• Why is it that the FBI appears to be relentlessly intimidating, punishing, deporting and in one case—that of Ibragim Todashev—shooting to death a person closely connected to the brothers? That pattern of behavior can easily call into question the FBI’s stated desire to get to the truth. Indeed, it can create the opposite impression. After the Todashev shooting, the FBI leaked to the media radically contradictory stories about how it happened: Todashev came at the agent with a knife, no, it was a sword, no, it was a pole. Even the Florida State Attorney’s investigation revealed mind-boggling contradictions between the stories of the FBI agent who did the shooting, and the Massachusetts state trooper who was in the room at the time. The trooper said Todashev charged him with a broom handle raised high like a javelin. But the FBI agent said Todashev ran at him with his left shoulder dropped in an attacking posture. For more details about the Todashev killing, please take a look here and here.

• The Tsarnaev’s uncle Ruslan and his apparent connections to retired CIA officer Graham Fuller and the CIA deserve further scrutiny.

• The fact that these immigrants were refugees from an area heavily contested between the United States and Russia, who were living in Cambridge, an established hotbed of espionage and international intrigue involving the United States, Russia and other countries, should give one serious pause before swallowing the “lone wolves” assertion.

• Even some law enforcement officials have expressed skepticism that the Tsarnaev brothers could have had the technical ability to construct and successfully detonate such highly sophisticated bombs in a flawlessly coordinated manner without help. The Tsarnaevs did not seem like criminal masterminds, as demonstrated by their boneheaded and panicky behavior once they were identified as the bombers.

And finally, the public has never seen the alleged video footage of Dzhokhar planting his backpack at the scene of the second explosion. What we have seen are grainy videos that show the brothers on Boylston St. carrying backpacks—like hundreds of other spectators that day.