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Huffman Aviation a Factor in Legal Struggle over Classified Documents

Flying the colors

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COMMENT: While the media behave in typical fashion and obsess on the NSA/PRISM non-scandal (this activity has been going on for many years), a much more important disclosure has been eclipsed as a result.

[Journalists behave like a flock of birds–when one lands, they all land and when one flies away, they all fly away.)

 In response to a lawsuit, previously-classified documents have been released, showing that, in fact, some Saudis who hurriedly evacuated Sarasota, Florida were indeed linked to the 9/11 hijackers.

They were linked to unnamed persons who were, in turn, linked to Huffman Aviation.

A couple of points to ponder:

  • They Huffman milieu is inextricably linked with the intelligence community, which may have led to the original redactions in the first place.
  • Coincidentally or otherwise, one of the documents is from the same date that Bush business partner and political ally Talat Othman interceded with then Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill on behalf of the individuals and institutions targeted by the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002.
  • References in the documents are made to current intelligence methodology as the need to keep the information classified. One wonders if the recently-arrested Rudi Dekkers may be singing

“Mys­tery of Sara­sota Saudis Deep­ens as Jus­tice Moves to End FOI Law­suit Cit­ing National Secu­rity” by Dan Chris­tensen and Anthony Sum­mers;BrowardBulldog.org; 6/3/2013.

A senior FBI official has told a Fort Lauderdale federal judge that disclosure of certain classified information about Saudis who hurriedly left their Sarasota area home shortly before 9/11 “would reveal current specific targets of the FBI’s national security investigations.”

Records Section Chief David M. Hardy’s assertion is contained in a sworn 33-page declaration filed in support of a Justice Department motion that seeks to end a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed last year by BrowardBulldog.org. . . .

. . . The newly released FBI records con­tra­dict the FBI’s pub­lic denials. One dated April 4, 2002 says the inves­ti­ga­tion “revealed many con­nec­tions” between the Saudis who fled Sara­sota and “indi­vid­u­als asso­ci­ated with the ter­ror­ist attacks on 9/11/2001.” (April 4/2002, coincidentally or otherwise, is the date on which Talat Othman interceded with then Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill on behalf of the individuals and institutions raided in the Operation Green Quest Raids of 3/20/2002.–D.E.)

The report goes on to list three of those indi­vid­u­als and con­nect them to the Venice, Florida flight school where sui­cide hijack­ers Mohamed Atta and Mar­wan al-Shehhi trained. The names of those indi­vid­u­als were not made public. (This is, obviously, Huffman Aviation.)

The FBI removed addi­tional infor­ma­tion in the report, cit­ing a pair of national secu­rity exemp­tions to the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act.

In his dec­la­ra­tion to U.S. Dis­trict Judge William J. Zloch, the FBI’s Hardy sought to explain those dele­tions and oth­ers. He said infor­ma­tion was with­held “to pro­tect an intel­li­gence method uti­lized by the FBI for gath­er­ing intel­li­gence data.” Such meth­ods include con­fi­den­tial informants.

Hardy, who stated that he has been des­ig­nated a “declas­si­fi­ca­tion author­ity” by Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder, said redac­tions regard­ing the Sara­sota inves­ti­ga­tion were also made to pro­tect “actual intel­li­gence activ­i­ties and meth­ods used by the FBI against spe­cific tar­gets of for­eign coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence inves­ti­ga­tions or operations.”

“The infor­ma­tion obtained from the intel­li­gence activ­i­ties or meth­ods is very spe­cific in nature, pro­vided dur­ing a spe­cific time period and known to very few indi­vid­u­als,” Hardy said.

DAMAGE TO NATIONAL SECURITY?

No details were pro­vided, but Hardy said the infor­ma­tion was “com­piled regard­ing a spe­cific indi­vid­ual or orga­ni­za­tion of national secu­rity inter­est.” He added that its dis­clo­sure “rea­son­ably could be expected to cause seri­ous dam­age to the national security.”

Dis­clo­sure would reveal the FBI’s “cur­rent spe­cific tar­gets” and “allow hos­tile enti­ties to dis­cover the cur­rent intel­li­gence gath­er­ing meth­ods used and reveal the cri­te­ria and pri­or­i­ties assigned to cur­rent intel­li­gence or coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence inves­ti­ga­tions,” Hardy said.

“With the aid of this detailed infor­ma­tion, hos­tile enti­ties could develop coun­ter­mea­sures which would, in turn, severely dis­rupt the FBI’s intel­li­gence gath­er­ing capa­bil­i­ties” and dam­age efforts “to detect and appre­hend vio­la­tors of the United States’ national secu­rity and crim­i­nal laws.” . . .

Discussion

One comment for “Huffman Aviation a Factor in Legal Struggle over Classified Documents”

  1. Here’s an update of former Senator Bob Graham’s continuing efforts to get the notoriously redacted 28 pages publicly released. And the FBI’s continuing efforts to block it:

    The New York Times
    Florida Ex-Senator Pursues Claims of Saudi Ties to Sept. 11 Attacks

    By CARL HULSE
    APRIL 13, 2015

    MIAMI LAKES, Fla. — The episode could have been a chapter from the thriller written by former Senator Bob Graham of Florida about a shadowy Saudi role in the Sept. 11 attacks.

    A top F.B.I. official unexpectedly arranges a meeting at Dulles International Airport outside Washington with Mr. Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after he has pressed for information on a bureau terrorism inquiry. Mr. Graham, a Democrat, is then hustled off to a clandestine location, where he hopes for a breakthrough in his long pursuit of ties between leading Saudis and the Sept. 11 hijackers.

    This real-life encounter happened in 2011, Mr. Graham said, and it took a startling twist.

    “He basically said, ‘Get a life,’ ” Mr. Graham said of the F.B.I. official, who suggested that the former senator was chasing a dead-end investigation.

    Mr. Graham, 78, a two-term governor of Florida and three-term senator who left Capitol Hill in 2005, says he will not relent in his efforts to force the government to make public a secret section of a congressional review he helped write — one that, by many accounts, implicates Saudi citizens in helping the hijackers.

    “No. 1, I think the American people deserve to know the truth of what has happened in their name,” said Mr. Graham, who was a co-chairman of the 2002 joint congressional inquiry into the terrorist attacks. “No. 2 is justice for these family members who have suffered such loss and thus far have been frustrated largely by the U.S. government in their efforts to get some compensation.”

    He also says national security implications are at stake, suggesting that since Saudi officials were not held accountable for Sept. 11 they have not been restrained in backing a spread of Islamic extremism that threatens United States interests. Saudi leaders have long denied any connection to Sept. 11.

    Mr. Graham’s focus on a possible Saudi connection has received renewed attention because of claims made by victims’ families in a federal court in New York that Saudi Arabia was responsible for aiding the Sept. 11 hijackers and because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the F.B.I. in Florida.

    In sworn statements in the two cases, Mr. Graham has said there was evidence of support from the Saudi government for the terrorists. He also says the F.B.I. withheld from his inquiry, as well as a subsequent one, the fact that the bureau had investigated a Saudi family in Sarasota, Fla., and had found multiple contacts between it and the hijackers training nearby until the family fled just before the attacks.

    Despite the F.B.I.’s insistence to the contrary, Mr. Graham said there was no evidence that the bureau had ever disclosed that line of investigation to his panel or the national commission that reviewed the attacks and delivered a report in 2004.

    “One thing that irritates me is that the F.B.I. has gone beyond just covering up, trying to avoid disclosure, into what I call aggressive deception,” Mr. Graham said during an interview in a family office in this Miami suburb, which rose on what was a dairy farm operated by Mr. Graham’s father, also a political leader in Florida.

    The F.B.I. dismisses such criticism. In a new review of the bureau in the aftermath of Sept. 11, a three-person commission issued a blanket declaration that the family in Sarasota had nothing to do with the hijackers or their attacks. The review placed blame for an initial F.B.I. report of “many connections” between the family and terrorists on a special agent who, under bureau questioning, “was unable to provide any basis for the contents of the document or explain why he wrote it as he did.”

    Still, a federal judge in South Florida is reviewing an estimated 80,000 documents related to the F.B.I.’s inquiry in Florida to determine what to release. Mr. Graham suggested that those documents could include photographs and records of cars linked to the hijackers entering the gated community where the Sarasota family lived.

    “That will be a real smoking gun,” Mr. Graham said.

    The case received unexpected attention this year when a former operative for Al Qaeda described prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family as major donors to the terrorist network in the late 1990s. The letter from the Qaeda member, Zacarias Moussaoui, prompted a statement from the Saudi Embassy saying the national Sept. 11 commission rejected allegations that Saudi officials had funded Al Qaeda.

    Mr. Graham’s stature has added weight both to the push for disclosure of the classified 28 pages of the congressional inquiry as well as the legal fight to make public F.B.I. documents about the investigation of the Saudi family in Sarasota.

    “He has been behind us all the way in terms of bringing attention to this,” said Dan Christensen, editor and founder of the Florida Bulldog, the online investigative journal that filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the F.B.I and the Justice Department.

    Mr. Graham’s refusal to drop what many in the intelligence community consider to be long-settled issues has stirred some private criticism that the former senator has been out of the game too long and is chasing imagined conspiracies in an effort to stay relevant as he lectures and writes books. Intelligence officials say the claims in the secret 28 pages were explored and found to be unsubstantiated in a later review by the national commission.

    Former colleagues are not so ready to write off a lawmaker they remember for sounding the alarm against the invasion of Iraq. He warned that shifting attention to removing Saddam Hussein would debilitate efforts to rid Afghanistan of Al Qaeda, which Mr. Graham said posed a far greater threat to the United States.

    “Bob Graham has proven to be prescient about many things,” said Jane Harman, the former California congresswoman who once served as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

    So is this going to be FBI’s new response to suspicions of Saudi elite involvement?!


    “One thing that irritates me is that the F.B.I. has gone beyond just covering up, trying to avoid disclosure, into what I call aggressive deception,” Mr. Graham said during an interview in a family office in this Miami suburb, which rose on what was a dairy farm operated by Mr. Graham’s father, also a political leader in Florida.

    The F.B.I. dismisses such criticism. In a new review of the bureau in the aftermath of Sept. 11, a three-person commission issued a blanket declaration that the family in Sarasota had nothing to do with the hijackers or their attacks. The review placed blame for an initial F.B.I. report of “many connections” between the family and terrorists on a special agent who, under bureau questioning, “was unable to provide any basis for the contents of the document or explain why he wrote it as he did.”

    Let’s hope Daniel Hopsicker is sitting down when he reads about this (he’s had health issues). Deep breaths, Daniel!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 15, 2015, 6:00 pm

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