Q: The major still-unanswered question from 9/11 may be this: Why did the CIA keep information about Khalid Al-Mihdhar — the 9/11 team member who was identified before the attacks as having a U.S. visa and tracked into the United States — secret from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies? Clearly this information could have been used to stop the 9/11 plot, yet CIA officials lied about it repeatedly, and have never been held to account either for their failure to inform or their lies. Do you have an answer?
A: Sadly no.
To date we’ve never been told why the information wasn’t passed to the team investigating the USS Cole attack, the State Department, or the Immigration and Naturalization Service, nor why he wasn’t put on a no-fly list, all of which were required under U.S. law. The 9/11 Commission Report noted that “Mihdhar had been the weak link in al Qaeda’s operational planning, a mistake KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] realized could endanger the entire plan,” and listed the failure to place Mihdhar on a watchlist and notify the FBI that he had a U.S. visa as one of the mistakes that could have prevented 9/11. The CIA’s inspector general came to the same conclusion, and recommended that an “accountability board review the performance of the CTC chiefs.” But this never happened, and most of the inspector general’s report is classified.
On September 12, 2001, in Sanaa, Yemen, I was handed a file by the CIA that contained information our team investigating the USS Cole bombing had explicitly requested — on three occasions in writing from the director of the FBI to the CIA: in November 2000, April 2001, and June 2001 — concerning Al Qaeda operatives and meetings, which the CIA had said it didn’t have. It turned out the agency had had information on the 9/11 planning summit in Malaysia, and on Al Qaeda operatives we were looking for in Yemen (who had actually been in the U.S. and among the hijackers), among other intelligence that they were legally obligated to share, but hadn’t.
Ten years after 9/11, we don’t have an answer to your question.
For any American to think, "This is water under the bridge," or "Why are we continuing to dwell on the past?" he is a willing accomplice to the crimes of the government.