Monday, November 03, 2008

Failing up

From The Dark Side by Jane Mayer

During this period prior September 11, inside the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, several FBI agents were on loan from the Bureau in a deliberate effort to foster bureaucratic synergy. Given the history of animosity and rivalry between th two departments it was jokingly referred to as "The Hostage Exchange Program." Doug Miller, one of these FBI agents on loan to the CIA, had access to what was called "bigoted" - meaning not shared - information on the CIA's Hercules computer system. There he saw the electronic communications mentioning that [9/11 hijacker] Hamzi had entered the United States. Twice, according to later investigations, he asked permission of his CIA supervisor to forward this disturbing information to his colleagues at the FBI. He wrote up a draft memo, to be sent to the FBI, and was ready to send it. But his boss, a CIA desk officer in the Bin Laden Unit of the Counterterrorist Center who is identified by the 9/11 Commission only as "Mike," and whose real name has never been revealed, stopped him from passing it on. After the second try, Miller dropped the matter. Oddly, three hours after "Mike" told Miller to hold off on sending the memo, formally known as a Central Intelligence Report, he nonetheless notified his bosses that the information had been shared with the FBI. The CIA assumed from then on that it had been. But it never was. The contradiction was never explained. An investigator with the 9/11 Commission who tried to sort through the details said of "Mike," "He said he couldn't remember what happened." Astonishingly, "Mike," the investigator later learned, was given a promotion by the Agency after September 11.

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