Did Tenet Hide Key 9/11 Info?

Exclusive: With few exceptions like some salacious rumor about the Kennedy family  the mainstream U.S. news media has little interest in historical stories. Such was the case when an ex-White House terrorism official accused a former CIA director of withholding information that might have prevented a 9/11 attack, Ray McGovern reports. 

By Ray McGovern

Bulletin for those of you who get your information only from the New York Times, the Washington Post and other outlets of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM): Former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has accused ex-CIA Director George Tenet of denying him and others access to intelligence that could have thwarted the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11.

Deliberately withholding critical intelligence from those who need it, and can act on it, is, at the least, gross dereliction of duty. 

The more so if keeping the White House promptly and fully informed is at the top of your job jar, as it was for Director of Central Intelligence Tenet. And yet that is precisely the charge Clarke has leveled at the former DCI.

In an interview aired on Aug. 11 on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado, Clarke charges that Tenet and two other senior CIA officials, Cofer Black and Richard Blee, deliberately withheld information about two of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. The two had entered the United States more than a year before the 9/11 attacks.

Clarke adds that the CIA then covered it all up by keeping relevant information away from Congress and the 9/11 Commission.

Lying by senior officials is bad enough, and there is now plenty of evidence that former CIA Director George Tenet and his closest agency associates are serial offenders. Think for a minute about the falsehoods spread regarding Iraq’s non-existent WMD stockpiles.

But withholding intelligence on two of the 9/11 hijackers would have been particularly unconscionable, the epitome of malfeasance, not just misfeasance. 

That’s why Richard Clarke’s conclusion that he should have received information from CIA about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, “unless somebody intervened to stop the normal automatic distribution” amounts, in my view, to a criminal charge, given the eventual role of the two in hijacking on 9/11 of AA-77, the plane that struck the Pentagon.

Tenet has denied that the information on the two hijackers was “intentionally withheld” from Clarke, and he has enlisted the other two former CIA operatives, Cofer Black (more recently a senior official of Blackwater) and Richard Blee (an even more shadowy figure), to concur in saying, Not us; we didn’t withhold.

Whom to believe? To me, it’s a no-brainer. One would have to have been born yesterday to regard the “George is right” testimony from Black and Blee as corroborative.

Tenet’s Dubious Credibility

Tenet is the same fellow who provided the “slam dunk” on the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, as well as the “artist renderings” of equally non-existent mobile laboratories for developing biological warfare agents, based on unconfirmed information from the impostor code-named  (appropriately) “Curveball.” 

It was Tenet who, under orders from President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, ordered up and disseminated a fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq, the purpose of which was to deceive our elected representatives out of their constitutional prerogative to authorize war. No small lies.

After a five-year investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chairman Jay Rockefeller described the intelligence adduced under Tenet to “justify” attacking Iraq as “uncorroborated, contradicted, and non-existent.” 

Good enough to win Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom, though. The corruption of intelligence worked just fine for the purposes of Bush and Cheney, thank you very much.

It is a actually a matter of record that Tenet lies a lot, on occasion, demonstrating what I would call chutzpah on steroids. Recall, for example, Tenet in April 2007 snarling at Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes”, five times, in five consecutive sentences, “We do not torture people.”

Under Oath

Tenet has lied about 9/11, too. The joint statement from Tenet, Black and Blee orchestrated by former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow concludes: “We testified under oath about what we did, what we knew and what we didn’t know. We stand by that testimony.”

Almost made me laugh almost.

In his sworn testimony to the 9/11 Commission on April 14, 2004, Tenet said he had not spoken to Bush, even on the telephone, during the entire month of August 2001.

But Tenet did fly down to see the President in Crawford, not once, but twice during August 2001, and briefed Bush again in Washington on the 31st.

After the TV cameras at the 9/11 Commission hearing were shut off, Bill Harlow phoned the commission staff to say, Oops, sorry, Tenet misspoke. Even then, Harlow admitted only to Tenet’s Aug. 17 visit to Crawford (and to the briefing on the 31st).

How do we know Tenet was again in Crawford, on Aug. 24? From a White House press release quoting President Bush to that effect, information somehow completely missed by our vigilant Fawning Corporate Media.

Funny, too, how Tenet could have forgotten his first visit to Crawford on Aug. 17. In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet waxes eloquent about the “president graciously driving me around the spread in his pickup and me trying to make small talk about the flora and the fauna.” But the visit was not limited to small talk.

In his book Tenet writes: “A few weeks after the August 6 PDB was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure the president stayed current on events.” The Aug. 6, 2001, President’s Daily Brief contained the article “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US.”

According to Ron Suskind’s The One-Percent Doctrine, the president reacted by telling the CIA briefer, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.”

If, as Tenet says in his memoir, it was the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB that prompted his visit on Aug. 17, what might have brought him back on Aug. 24? I believe the answer can be found in court documents released at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the fledgling pilot in Minnesota interested in learning to steer a plane but indifferent as to how to land it.

Those documents show that on Aug. 23, 2001, Tenet was given an alarming briefing focusing on Moussaoui, titled “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” Tenet was told that Moussaoui was training to fly a 747 and, among other suspicion-arousing data, had paid for the training in cash.

It is an open question, if a key one, whether Tenet told Bush about the two hijackers, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, while keeping that key information from the person who most needed it, White House counter-terrorist czar Richard Clarke. Clarke finds the only plausible explanation in his surmise that Tenet was personally responsible.

Clarke says: “For me to this day, it is inexplicable, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months.”

Enter Harlow

But Tenet’s aide-de-camp Bill Harlow has branded Clarke’s statements “absurd and patently false.” The statement Harlow shepherded for Tenet, Black and Blee adds “reckless and profoundly wrong baseless belied by the record unworthy of serious consideration.”

And Harlow never lies? Right.

I’m reminded of Harlow’s reaction to Newsweek’s publication on Feb. 24, 2003, of the intelligence information provided by Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel when he defected to Jordan in 1995. Kamel brought with him a treasure trove of documents and unique knowledge of Iraq’s putative “weapons of mass destruction.”

Most significantly, he told his U.S. debriefers there were no WMD in Iraq. He knew, since he was in charge of the chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs for almost a decade, and he ordered what weapons existed destroyed before the U.N. inspectors could discover them after the war in 1991. 

In his words: “I ordered the destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons, biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.”

He told the U.S. much more, and the information that could be checked out was confirmed. But Kamel’s information didn’t fit with the Bush administration’s propaganda regarding its certainty that Iraq did have WMD stockpiles and was defying United Nations demands that the WMD be destroyed.

Those pushing the Iraq War juggernaut in early 2003 almost had a conniption when Newsweek acquired a transcript of Kamel’s debriefing and published this potentially explosive story barely three weeks before the invasion. 

Newsweek noted gingerly that this information “raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist.” It was the kind of impeccably sourced documentary evidence after which intelligence analysts and lawyers lust.

But this was not at all what Bush, Cheney, and, by sycophantic extension, Tenet wanted Newsweek readers, or the rest of us, to learn less than a month before the U.S./U.K. attack on Iraq ostensibly to find and destroy those non-existent weapons.

Bill Harlow to the rescue:  he told the FCM in no uncertain terms that the Newsweek story was, “incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue.” And the media cheerleaders for war breathed a sigh of relief, saying, Gosh, thanks for telling us, and then dropped the story like a hot potato.

By all indications, Harlow is still able to work his fraudulent magic on the FCM, which has virtually ignored this major Clarke v. Tenet story since it broke several days ago.

If Harlow says it’s not true and hurls still more pejorative adjectives in a crude attempt to discredit the very serious charge Clarke has made well, I guess we’ll have to leave it there, as the FCM is so fond of saying.

No matter Clarke’s well-deserved reputation for honesty and professionalism, and Tenet’s for the opposite. And so it goes.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. As a CIA analyst, he served under seven presidents and nine CIA directors; he is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

23 comments for “Did Tenet Hide Key 9/11 Info?

  1. Gregory L Kruse
    August 26, 2011 at 11:38

    Now it all falls into place. Bush/Cheney wanted to invade Iraq to get the oil fields back for the corporations. Their chance came when information about some inept Muslims were recklessly training to take off and fly 747’s but not to land came to their attention. Thinking of the propaganda value of a failed or foiled attempt by terrorists to ram buildings sacred to Americans, they decided to let it ride. The news of 9/11 was shocking to Bush not because of the attack, but because of the quality of the attack. The strength of the cohesion necessary to contain the underlying gravity of what they (all of those involved) had done could only have been supplied by a man like Cheney. If and when that fascade is cracked open, we will see a scene of a leader on the order of Stalin, Hitler, and a few others, who is hard as Krupp steel, and able to keep his minions under the tightest control. What he has on them is the knowledge of what they all conspired to do; and what they have on him is nothing, because he doesn’t really care who knows what he has done. He’s proud of it.

  2. Carole Jones
    August 20, 2011 at 21:47

    August 20, A retired military pilot told me that those aircraft that hit the buildings in New York were flown as drones–that the passengers were gassed prior to takeoff. Cell phone calls from the supposedly living passengers in the flight over Pennsylvania? Impossible at that altitude in those days. After hearing a few words it is (was) possible to duplicate anyone’s voice. The details of this are well known. What happened to the aircraft? Flown as drones to an undisclosed location where they were disposed of, along with the bodies. Try checking Truth in 9/11 on the internet. Then in your heart say the actual attack was not an inside job.

  3. August 20, 2011 at 20:53

    I Don’t claim to know what happened that day. There are a lot of misleading theories that claim to know what happened on that day but the official version is swiss cheese , full of holes and contradictions.
    Why go to the length of planting Mohammed Atta’s passport at the WTC- paper surviving an inferno like that and being picked up for all to see—-PLEASE this is utter crap
    Daniel Hopsicker- The Mad Cow Morning News exposed the background of the “terrorists” in hollywood florda with MOssad agents living just down the street……just google him

  4. CC
    August 19, 2011 at 03:25

    Carole, once it has been accepted that elements in the US government “let it happen on purpose”, which has just been given even more credence by the George Tenet revelation, it is not far of a leap at all to speculate that they in fact “made it happen on purpose”. With all the reports of explosions and of course the collapse of WTC 7, which of course the 9/11 Commission Report avoided even mentioning, it is hard not to draw the conclusion that explosives were pre-positioned. Some people say that the secrecy involved in such an operation would make it impossible, but this is preposterous. These sorts of black ops rely on absolute secrecy, enforced on a “need-to-know” basis. Perhaps no one knew the plan in full — they just had a job to do and they did it.

  5. Carole Jones
    August 18, 2011 at 19:19

    August 18, Yes, we too wonder if Consortium is rethinking its stance. The third building going down in its own footprint without have been hit. Explosions heard inside the first building before the building was even hit. The coroner’s first report in Pennsylvania was that neither plane nor body parts were found. He changed his story a few hours later. A relative of mine, in the Air Force, used to help pick up body parts following a crash. There are always body parts. There are always plane parts. Bush continuing with his reading to children following notification of a supposedly unknown group taking out the first building in NYC. The men protecting him would have allowed that? The dance goes on and on.

    • August 19, 2011 at 22:44

      I watched our local news (Johnstown Pa WJAC) on the 9/11 morning when flight 93 supposedly went down. Our retired head of the Pa. State police happened to be out on the golf course and saw the whole thing. Called the announcer (Marty Ranavonic) on air and told the story about the plane coming down. The problem was he claimed he was at a golf course that wasn’t even close to where the plane supposedly went down. Marty looked perplexed and finally named a different golf course near Shanksville, and then asked if that was where the chief was at. The chief said, oh ya, that’s right. About that time WJAC was showing pictures (taken from a distant mountain because they weren’t allowed at the site) and there was no plane wreckage, nothing, not even a fuel fire, nothing.

  6. CC
    August 18, 2011 at 09:15

    “Deliberately withholding critical intelligence from those who need it, and can act on it, is — at the least — gross dereliction of duty.”

    Two words: inside job.

    Consortiumnews has disparaged and ridiculed those who reject the “incompetence theory” for the much more plausible theory that elements in the United States government aided and abetted the false-flag terror attack of 9/11.

    Although basic facts and logic simply do not support the incompetence theory, this theory is held up as sacrosanct by the editors of this website, all evidence to the contrary.

    I wonder if Consortiumnews is rethinking its stance? Or perhaps, might let up on the belittling and name-calling of the so-called “truthers”. The inside job theory is at least equally as plausible as the incompetence theory, especially when one takes into account the evidence of pre-planted explosives at the WTC, in order to bring the towers down.

  7. MacDougall
    August 17, 2011 at 21:12

    “Io Sono Stato Un Soldato Di Roma!”

    Ray, this must be the topic of your next editorial. It’s all about the idea that military pensions are now on “the table”. Translation: “I Was A Soldier For Rome!” It’s the line from that movie, “Gladiator”.

    Military pensions have always been regarded as what somebody smarter than I am called, “deferred annuity”. In other words, we pay you “peanuts” now, but at least, if you live, you can enjoy life. If you die, your wife and kids will be taken care of by the “survivor benefits”.

    When I went on “Active Duty” twenty nine years ago, the average lifespan for a military retiree, regardless of his or her age, was eight years after retirement, the worst longevity prospect in the entire United States population.

    My “civilian” counterparts earn as much as five times what I earn, and they get all kinds of “tax breaks”. I have eleven years of “higher” education beyond high school, most of it paid for by student loans, and I never “defaulted”. But I have twenty nine years of “military education”, and I know to interpret propaganda, intelligence reports, and news reports. I see right through “PsyOps”.

    I served on five U.S. Navy ships, did two tours with the Marine Corps, and I am proficient at performing most of the skills outlined in that little book the Marine Corps used to call, “The Basic Knowledge”. First and foremost in that book was the idea that, “Americans Don’t Torture Prisoners!” I remember an analogy from those days: “If it’s raining, and you have a tent that will sleep ten people, and you have ten prisoners, the prisoners have to sleep in the tent”.

    I am old and broken now, and I don’t expect to live eight more years. But the deal I made for doing this job was that my wife and kids would get everything I was promised by “Rome”. Sono stato fedele, e ho sacrificato tutto per avere questi benefici. “I have been faithful, and I have sacrificed everything to have these benefits.” It’s probably not a good idea for America to have thousands and thousands of people like me angry at our politicians. We are not stupid, we are not illiterate, and we are not uneducated. We are, “Soldiers of Rome”.

  8. Graham Bedinger
    August 17, 2011 at 16:45

    Despite the lack of training, they still crashed the airplanes.

  9. Carole Jones
    August 17, 2011 at 14:40

    August 17, The pilots of the aircraft that supposedly hit the Pentagon only had flying training in prop aircraft. No jet training. It takes a couple of thousand hours of training to be checked out to fly a multiengine jet. Have you ever been in the cockpit of a multiengine jet? I have. In addition, I have about 6 hours of Cessna single engine prop time. You “keep the ball in the middle”. And where were the military aircraft that guard our skies? I have a relative who was on those planes for years. In minutes they were in the air should any aircraft, civilian, military, or commercial deviate from its pre-submitted flight plan. Those planes were all on the ground, on “stand down” on 9/11, compliments of Cheney and friends.

  10. Nick
    August 17, 2011 at 13:36

    monmon wrote: In fact the Tea party and all involved in it was formed especially as a precautions to prevent any further investigations in 9/11 and wars on terrorism


    Actually, today’s tea party movement was originally started by some 9/11 Truthers in order to publicize the shortcomings of the 9/11 Commission’s investigation into 9/11 and their half-assed attempt at a Whitewa…, er I mean final report.

    see this:


    Supporters of the so-called “Tea Party Movement” should seriously address the questions raised by long-time consumer advocate Ralph Nader in the article below. But first, they should review the history of their own movement, today branded by the corporate mass media as some sort of knee-jerk reaction to “liberal” policies. The public is not told that this movement actually began as a “Tea Party for 9/11 Truth” in Boston on December 16, 2006. This original one-day Tea Party which was held on the cobblestones outside Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall was the brainchild of Senior Military Affairs Journalist and author of October Surprise Barbara Honegger with help from fellow progressives.

    Following demands for a truthful investigation into the 9/11 attacks, the group proceeded to Boston Harbor where they dumped several faux cases of the The 9/11 Commission Report into the water mimicking the original Boston Tea Party. The purpose was to call attention to the numerous unanswered questions concerning the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Further Tea Parties were scheduled inside the hall and in Boston Commons for Dec. 15 and 16, 2007. In that year, it turned out that Ron Paul supporters in Boston wanted Faneuil Hall for a “money bomb” campaign fund raiser but found it had already been booked by “Tea Party for 9/11 Truth.” Paul’s supporters begged the 9/11 Truth organizers to allow them to have the hall for one of the two days and they agreed to allow Paul use of the hall on Sunday, Dec. 16. According to Online Journal Associate Editor Jerry Mazza, “This history is the key to understanding where the original Tea Party idea came from — it came from Barbara Honegger and her passionately independent Progressive allies. It is the true tale of how that original Boston Tea Party for 9/11 Truth, which was Honegger’s vision — a vision for a politically independent and progressive ‘Second American Revolution’ — happened to be co-opted by the right wing, which Honegger says is “the antithesis of everything our original Tea Parties stood for.”


  11. charles caruso
    August 17, 2011 at 13:23

    Why doesn’t anyone discuss the possibilty that the Zionists either orchestrated the attacks or knew abt them and didnt tell us?
    Fox News’ Carl Cameron said as much in groundbreaking 4-part series that Foxman persuaded Fox to delete fm their archive. Try UTube before Foxman gets to that one too.

  12. Graham Bedinger
    August 17, 2011 at 11:57

    Dearest Carole, I know personally at least one person who saw the airliner fly over Arlington before it hit the Pentagon. Her thought at the time was that that plane was flying way too low on approach to National. In an area that has aircraft constantly flying in and out of the airport, one would notice if a singular plane was off course. While she was not near the Pentagon and did not witness the crash, she did see the plane.

    • Kathy Bringman
      August 18, 2011 at 23:13

      I have seen pictures of drones that have been painted up to look like an airplane. Maybe it is possible this is what she saw.

  13. Carole Jones
    August 17, 2011 at 11:09

    August 17, I have a very close friend who is a retired B52 aircraft commander, with approximately 20,000 hrs. of flying time. He said it was impossible for any multiengine jet pilot to have executed the maneuvers necessary to crash into the Pentagon as is alleged. The aircraft would have stalled. Further, the hole entering the Pentagon was too small for such an aircraft to have hit it. Total fabrication. He feels that every multiengine jet pilot knows this. He says the Pentagon was hit by a missile.

  14. monmon 368
    August 17, 2011 at 03:09

    In fact the Tea party and all involved in it was formed especially as a precautions to prevent any further investigations in 9/11 and wars on terrorism .The price they will pay is too much for the majority of them who initiated it and cover the facts after. We can see Rove is now involved arm and leg to elect Republicans so the truth will be delayed or never come up to the surface .

  15. Bill
    August 17, 2011 at 03:04

    It all fits with other scattered facts that support the hypothesis of Bush’s intention to wait for America to be attacked so he could launch a war: “The Cole was stale”, a policy statement indicating they wanted “fresh” attacks that occur on their watch, and how Bush needed “an appetite for war” in America, as he divulged to the 9-11 Commission behind closed doors, and not under oath.

    A note worth mentioning even though it is only mildly on topic…
    A glaring inconsistency among Christian supporters of Bush: Why would they keep defending a man, alleged of deep faith in Christianity, who refused to put his hand on the Holy Bible and swear before the Almighty that he would tell the truth about what he and his administration were doing and refusing to do during the 8 months before 9-11? A man true to his Christian faith would never hesitate to swear upon the Holy Bible, never.

    I continue to insist that America has the right to have Bush & Cheney testify under oath, on camera, with transcript, in separate hearings about every detail of the strategy and tactics used in defending America against any and all terrorists, the 9-11 hijackers, Bin Landen, Al-Qaeda, et al.
    Anything short of that are the deeds of gutless cowards.

    • thomas
      August 20, 2011 at 10:34

      [[[[[[[ El-CIA-DUH !!]]]]]]

  16. steve wise
    August 17, 2011 at 00:13


    • skinnydog
      August 19, 2011 at 02:19

      You might want to have your caps lock key checked out. It might be stuck.

      • thomas
        August 20, 2011 at 10:29

        Yeah…… Caps are a sign of bravery, self confidence… assuredness…!!! BRAVO……….

  17. Norman
    August 16, 2011 at 21:56

    I wonder, is this another of the false flag items that have been published? What seems to be clear today, is the information has been seeing the light of day at a quickening pace. What used to take decades to surface, if then, are now within reach almost as they happen. The idea that only a few people can know the truth, has been turned on its head.

    There are too many people who are telling their story today, because too many people are involved in what is increasingly turning out to be a cover up, perhaps because they want to cash in on what they know. Funny thing, “greed”, draws even the so called secrets out into the open.

    The whole affair is like a huge bomb with a lit fuse, one that keeps getting shorter as the days go by. One can just imagine what the reaction will be when the ordinary citizens finely wake up to the facts, put a face on the present events here in the U.S.A., Congress, Wall Street, Business elites, even the rest of the Government agencies. So who will give the order[s] to nuke some part of the country to try to keep the charade going?

    To continue believing that a small elite can control almost 7 billion people, is the most far flung piece of insanity that exists today. Once the shooting starts, all bets are mute, for it will be everyone for him/her self. Who knows what will come out of the ashes?

Comments are closed.