4. Bush Administration Hampered FBI Investigation into Bin Laden Family Before 9/11

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on


Title: “French book indicts Bush Administration”
Author: Amanda Luker

November 8, 2001
Title: “Bush took FBI agents off Bin Laden family trail”
Author: Rashmee Z. Ahmed

November 7, 2001
Title: “FBI and US spy agents say Bush spiked bin Laden probes before 11 September”
Author: Greg Palast and David Pallister

Faculty evaluator: Catherine Nelson
Student researchers: Donald Yoon, David Immel

Corporate media coverage;
L.A. Times, 1/13/02 Part A-1, page 11

A French book Bin Laden, la verite interdite (Bin Laden, the forbidden truth) claims that the Bush Administration halted investigations into terrorist activities related to the bin Laden family and began planning for a war against Afghanistan before 9-11.

The authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, are French intelligence analysts. Dasquie, an investigative reporter, publishes Intelligence Online, which is a respected newsletter on economics and diplomacy. Brisard worked for French secret services and in 1997 wrote a report on the Al Qaeda network.

In 1996, high-placed intelligence sources in Washington told the Guardian, “There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis.” The authors allege that under the influence of US oil companies, George W. Bush and his administration initially halted investigations into terrorism, while bargaining with the Taliban to deliver Osama bin Laden in exchange for economic aid and political recognition. The book goes on to reveal that former FBI deputy director John O’Neill resigned in July of 2001 in protest over the obstruction of terrorist investigations. According to O’Neill, “The main obstacles to investigating Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it.” The restrictions were said to have worsened after the Bush administration took over. Intelligence agencies were told to “back off” from investigations involving other members of the bin Laden family, the Saudi royals, and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan. John O’Neil died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center.

An FBI file coded 199, which means a case involving national security, records that Abdullah bin Laden, who lived in Washington, originally had a file opened on him “because of his relationship with the Saudi-funded World Assembly of Muslim Youth – a suspected terrorist organization.” The BBC reiterated a well-known claim, made by one of George W. Bush’s former business partners, that Bush made his first million dollars 20 years ago from a company financed by Osama’s elder brother, Salem. It has also been revealed that both the Bushs and the bin Ladens had lucrative stakes in the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm that has grown to be one of the largest investors in US defense and communications contracts.

Brisard and Dasquie contend that the government’s main objective in Afghanistan was to unite the Taliban regime in order to gain access to the oil and gas reserves in Central Asia. Brisard and Dasquie report that the Bush government began negotiations with the Taliban directly after coming into power and representatives met several times in Washington, Islamabad, and Berlin.

There were also claims that the last meeting between the United States and Taliban representatives took place only five weeks before the attacks in New York and Washington.

Long before the September 11th attacks, the United States had decided to invade Afghanistan in the interest of oil. In February of 1998, at the hearing before a sub-group of the Committee on International Relations, Congress discussed ways to deal with Afghanistan to make way for an oil pipeline. Jane’s Defense News reported in March 2001 that an invasion of Afghanistan was being planned.

Times of India reported that in June of 2001, the US Government told India that there would be an invasion of Afghanistan in October of that year. By July of 2001 George Arney, with the BBC, also reported the planned invasion.

UPDATE BY AUTHOR AMANDA LUKER: Paula Zahn was right. If “Bin Laden: la verite interdite” is correct, it is huge. But, the national media will never give it a second glance.

The release of this book not only corroborates other investigations placing US big oil interests in Central Asia negotiating a pipeline in the ‘90s, but also exposes oil interests in the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National security advisor Condoleeza Rice, and Bush, both senior and junior. With this book, Guillaume Dasquie and Jean-Charles Brisard question America’s war time intentions: Is the United States protecting “enduring freedom” or are the bombings really a means of securing a pliant regime in Afghanistan so the United States can gain control over future oil veins pumping across the Middle East?

The mainstream coverage was dismissive. Dr. Daniel Goure, member of the conservative think-tank The Lexington Institute casually dismissed it on Minnesota Public Radio as a conspiracy theory, “debunked right, left and center,” even comparing it to the theory that Americans never went to the moon, that “it was all done in a studio in Hollywood.” He neglects to mention the book was not written by conspiracy nuts but by two esteemed French intelligence experts. And who debunked it? He doesn’t say.

At this moment [June 2002], the media is just beginning to skewer Bush for not increasing national security while knowing Taliban threats before Sept. 11. Some are beginning to ask, “If he knew this, what else did he know?” Just a few months ago, the notion that Bush knew pre-Sept. 11 was also dismissed as a conspiracy theory.

Americans should be given tools to questions those in power. Not every theory will be correct, but I, for one, am desperately curious what two European intelligence experts would have to say about US foreign policy.

Dasquie and Brisard’s book is still only available in French. On the Web site Intelligence Online (which Dasquie edits), the first chapter can be viewed in French.

For more information: Intelligence Online http://www.intelligenceonline.com/
Editor in Chief, Guillaume Dasquie (author of “Bin Laden: la verite interdite”)
E-mail: redaction@indigo-net.com

Consortium News’ Bush Family “Oiligarchy” series http://www.consortiumnews.com/2000/081400a1.html

Z Net http://www.zmag.org

Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President
by J. H. Hatfield, Mark Crispin Miller

Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism by John K. Cooley

UPDATE BY THE GUARDIAN FOR AUTHOR GREG PALAST: Within two months of the attack on the World Trade Center, the Guardian investigative team and BBC Television’s Newsnight obtained documents, evidence and insider interviews exposing the Bush Administration’s pre-September 11 directives to intelligence agencies blocking inquiries into the bin Laden family and Saudi Arabian financing of terror networks. Driving this policy of deliberate blindness, we have further reported, were the ill combination of petroleum politics and financial conflicts of interest: the Bush family and allies deep ties to Saudi Arabian royals, banks and arms dealers.

The story should be understood as one of our continuing series on Bush family finances by the Guardian Group (Guardian and Observer) and BBC Newsnight. The first of these in November 2000 exposed the purge of Black voters from Florida’s voter rolls which the US Civil Rights Commission called, “the first hard evidence of deliberate violations of civil rights.

The team’s reports have been virtually blacked-out in the USA – though widely reported and lauded worldwide; in the case of the Bin Laden report, from the Times of India across to Latin America’s top publications. American journalist Palast had to relocate to Europe to write and broadcast this series.

Not all responses are kind. The story (and a follow-up report by BBC) drew threats of lawsuit from a Saudi “charity.” This is serious stuff in a land lacking a First Amendment. A mining corporation which hired the senior Bush as a consultant did sue the Guardian over one of the reports; the successful defense bled our thin finances.

Despite the cost (admittedly with some of our network and newspaper executives biting their nails) we have soldiered on with the investigations. Our general theme – Bush family finances and oil – led us to break the story this month (again, not covered in the USA), that Hugo Chavez survived an attempted coup d’etat because of warnings to him in advance by the secretary-general of OPEC.

On the intelligence story, we are debriefing an arms dealer and other sources about a 1996 meeting between Al Qaida’s financial representative, gun merchants and Saudi royals. Most important to us are US agencies’ knowledge of the meeting and follow-up (or lack thereof). The print report also notes “Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan.” The creation of the “Islamic” bomb is another target of our research.

Dan Rather, a guest on our BBC program last week, admitted the US press coverage of bin Laden and war has been twisted into an unquestioning outlet of official PR. As a result, American public debate has been reduced to shouting between conspiracy theorists and the willfully ignorant ‘patriots.’ Our reports, that economic interests blinded official America to security threats, is not part of the dialogue.

Recognition in the US by Project Censored would encourage BBC and Guardian’s risk taking work.

Note: These stories are the result of a large team effort. Therefore, we would appreciate your recognizing the work of BBC Newsnight producer Meirion Jones and Guardian chief of investigations, David Leigh.

In addition, it is important to include with the Guardian story, the transcripts of the companion 7 November 2001 BBC Newsnight (attached below) – especially as Newsnight put up all the cash for this particularly costly segment of the investigation.


UPDATE BY AUTHOR DAVID PALLISTER: I endorse Greg Palast’s update response.

I would add that this was a significant story in exposing the ultra-sensitive relationship that exists between the US and Saudi (because of oil, obviously) that tends to preclude any recognition of the fact that Saudi has provided the money, the cadres and the ideology that had driven Al Qaida. The Guardian has investigated in depth the connections between Saudi-sponsored charities and terrorism since 9/11, as well as exposing the appalling human rights record of the Saudi regime in terms on torturing citizens of Britain, Belgium and Canada to make forced and false confessions of involvement in terrorist bombing.