September 14, 2001
3:59 PM   Subscribe

Were the clues found by law enforcement officers planted to mislead the search for the perpetrators of 9.11? I've been wondering, and so does Stratfor.
posted by rebeccablood (13 comments total)
Where did the FBI list of hijackers come from? I haven't seen how they figured it out, anywhere.

The hijackers used fake names for at least some of them. Why couldn't they have used fake names throughout all of it?
posted by whatnotever at 4:08 PM on September 14, 2001

I usually assume that what info the FBI, etc decide to release to placate the masses is completely different from what they are really finding and working with. So I feel better not speculating about or criticizing their actions, and just hoping that they are smart people who won't release any information that may jeopardize their investigation. Whatever clues and names they've chosen to talk about may not be as useful as what they can not talk about. (You may, certainly, call me naive or idealistic.)
posted by girlhacker at 4:12 PM on September 14, 2001

And I need to add that what I wrote above is not meant to criticize the Stratfor report; it is certainly valid to speculate that the clues are red herrings.
posted by girlhacker at 4:15 PM on September 14, 2001

Exactly girlhacker, I have always believed that the CIA does not release prime information, especially in our wired age. Instead these may be names of people that could possibly flush out the organization responsible. Anything is possible at this point.

This could be why the Carnivore is being used.
posted by Benway at 4:18 PM on September 14, 2001

The fact remains that the CIA and FBI really messed up. I mean, a whole decade of conspiracy theories has been based on the CIA being this huge octopus-like organization that can tax drugs entering the country, depose governments, manipulate the media, etc. In a talk I had with another politically active friend, he characterized the CIA as "the f**king rulers of the world." But now, it seems that they can't even do their job, namely protecting America's borders. We all hope, of course, that the people who committed the terrible acts of Sept 11 will be caught, but can public confidence in the abilities of CIA/FBI/counter-intelligence really be that high? The American people should demand the immediate resignation of the heads of said organizations (and the Transportation ministry) and let accountability begin at home.
posted by fellorwaspushed at 4:42 PM on September 14, 2001

can public confidence in the abilities of CIA/FBI/counter-intelligence really be that high...

Yeah, good question. The fact is that intelligence ops have lost their edge since the Cold War, and in some ways, we have benefitted from that. I recall the era of Oliver North with a shudder. Having your president conducing his own, unauthorized war... that's scary too.

I think it's too easy to slam U.S. intelligence. The apparent perps subscribe to an ideology so different from ours that you can't just bug hotel rooms and use spy scopes. You have to get inside their world. And that would be very hard for a Western operative. You can't send spies into that world and just hope they'll mix in. The Russians sent spies into our intelligence network, spies that we could bribe or capture or coerce into becoming double-agents. But terrorists don't do that either. We can't bribe a terrorist into telling us what they know.

I suspect that in the next year a lot more intelligence dollars will be going into studying Middle Eastern and Asian organizations. But I wonder if it will really help.
posted by Bootcut at 5:27 PM on September 14, 2001

Hold on a minute.
I think the fact that the clues were left behind suggests that it WASN'T a sophisticated plan, and seemed to be rather haphazard in the execution. I can be trained to be a killer and a pilot, but that doesn't mean I'm trained to destroy all the evidence. Besides, it's not like they were worried about being caught...they were going to die anyway, whether they "succeeded" or not.
The fact that they used a single credit card suggests that it wasn't a smart plan, never mind that someone supposedly hung on to the credit card afterwards (which, if I believed the reports, wasn't the was simply a person who happened to have the same NAME as the one on the credit card, like two John Smiths). If you were going to hide your tracks, you'd use multiple credit cards and purchase the tickets on the day of the plan (since the planes were obviously not full).
I get the feeling that the overall planning might have been sophisticated (multiple attacks, fake ids/passports, co-ordinated efforts) but the lack of someone to clean up the paper trail or evidence is what is their undoing.
posted by Grum at 5:33 PM on September 14, 2001

an arabic flight manual in a rental car? that's a red herring if I ever saw one. it has always looked like a complete set-up to me.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:38 PM on September 14, 2001

i dunno. I imagine the actual date and flights and other details were decided at the very last minute (to avoid being discovered), and those who carried it out told even later.

I also doubt that these terrorists were necessarily, to a man, the most intelligent people in the world. And probably the people who run terrorist organizations care more about fanaticism and lack of skepticism than any sort of basic intelligence.

I mean, wouldn't it be more surprising if they executed the whole thing perfectly without screwing up somewhere and leaving some clue (not to mention getting caught in the act)?
posted by mattpfeff at 5:50 PM on September 14, 2001

I dunno either. As the Stratfor pieces point out, the hijackers planned and executed these operations with excellent operational security. The slipups do seem to be suspicious. On the other hand, people do the damndest things.

I read an interesting viewpoint somewhere, maybe Stratfor, that I'd like to expand upon.

<.conspiracy theory>

What if your goal was to get more allies in your effort to throw the Americans out of the Muslim world, an effort which wasn't making much progress? It sure would be easier if the Americans were flying around bombing the shit out of random buildings and killing innocent people. You tried blowing up a couple of embassies, but Bill Clinton just launched a couple cruise missiles into the middle of nowhere. You blew the shit out of the USS Cole, but before Bill Clinton could do anything foolish, everyone was distracted by the US presidential election.

What does it take to get the Americans to fly off the handle? You aren't quite sure, but you figure that destroying the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol ought to do the trick. While you'd rather not have your experienced field agents get caught, you want to make sure that the Americans do take action against Muslim countries, so what can you do? Leaving a Quoran in your car sounds like a reasonable start...

<./conspiracy theory>
posted by jaek at 7:07 PM on September 14, 2001

jaek, that's hardly a conspiracy theory if it differs only in small detail from Osama bin Laden's publicly professed strategy. He makes no secret of his desire for a jihad between the West and Islam, a war he believes would be won by sheer numbers if nothing else.

Questions I have about slip-ups include why one plane was short a hijacker or two, permitting an apparent cockpit struggle; why the Pentagon pilot circled around the Capitol and White House before aiming at his target; why they struck on a day which was perfect for their plan in many ways but one (Bush six states away); why credit has not been taken. If you want a jihad, misleading your target isn't exactly the best course of action.

The FBI list of names came from passenger manifests, whatnot. They backtracked on credit cards to determine who was related, and apparently that led them to things like the flight school enrollments.

I don't believe the kamikaze pilots had a flawless plan. I believe they executed someone else's plan that involved a huge number of variables. (Maybe we should be looking for project management consultants.) They themselves did not need to be brilliant, though being flexible would certainly help.
posted by dhartung at 10:05 PM on September 14, 2001

Here's a conspiracy theory: fanatic Israelis did it, knowing that basic American stubbornness and pride would force us to retaliate against those being framed. Who knows, we might even help Israel occupy the Palestine entirely and crush the rebellion (kinda like the Empire in Star Wars, I guess.)

Or an even dumber theory: the CIA/FBI/NSA/whatever did it to justify Carnivore.

Nah. The hijackers just didn't really care about getting caught, because they were going to die anyway. They were probably not under any particular orders to hide evidence because, at the time, some group was going to claim responsibility. And then when it actually happened, they got scared and didn't. Maybe the Taliban sat on them and told them to shut up.

Lots of speculation... none of it is worth anything.
posted by Foosnark at 9:45 AM on September 15, 2001

when it actually happened, they got scared and didn't [claim responsibility]

I think it is possible that they did not think it likely that the WTC would actually collapse (let alone other nearby buildings) or that so many people would be killed. They probably expected the death toll to be high, but not as high as it was. And America's reaction is going to be much bigger than they had expected because of this.
posted by kindall at 10:09 AM on September 15, 2001

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