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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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