Frankly, I did not expect to see a story like this
in a place like Politico. As this blogger
notes, "the idea of politico allowing a columnist to suggest that awlaki was a CIA agent would have been inconceivable, say, a year ago."
Unfortunately, the Politico story at the other end of that first link is more confusing than it ought to be, so let me give a little background.
Everything stems from a trial involving one Ali Al-Timimi, a Muslim biologist who was a suspect in the anthrax attacks. Although cleared of involvement in that event, he was tried in 2005 on charges of "inciting terrorism" and sentenced to life in prison.
What does "inciting terrorism" mean? According to this newspaper
, he asked a team of paintball players to train for jihad. Oooh, scary
According to a court filing by Timimi's attorney, Edward MacMahon, in late 2002, former imam and suspected al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki has visited al-Tamimi in Northern Virginia, and asked him about recruiting young Muslims to fight terrorism."
Eventually, Timimi began to wonder whether al-Awlaki -- the infamous American-born cleric-to-the-jihadis -- had set him up. Timimi suspected that the Awlaki was wired and working for Uncle all along.
From the Politico piece:
Al-Timimi lawyer Jonathan Turley said Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011, visited Al-Timimi at his home in October 2002 and "encouraged him to recruit....and actually raised issues of possible terrorist acts." The defense lawyer said that recently-released FBI files suggest that Al-Awlaki may have been acting as an "asset" for some government agency when he returned to the U.S. from abroad just prior to his meeting with Al-Timimi.
As long-time readers know, I've been asking similar questions about al-Awlaki for a long time. Obama killed the guy in a drone strike -- supposedly
. (As I've noted in previous posts, we have good reason to question whether he really died.) Al-Awlaki's teenaged son was killed in another attack.
However, prosecutor Gordon Kromberg insisted that the government turned over all information it was obligated to prior to Al-Timimi's trial and had no duty to detail its dealings with Al-Awlaki.
"Mr. Turley has no right to know [whether the government] had an asset into Awlaki at that time. Mr. Turley has no right to know if Mr. Awlaki was an asset at that time," Kromberg told Brinkema.
Astonishing. This is not a denial. This is the government saying that the public has "no right to know."
Let that sink in: We don't have a right to know whether an American citizen killed in a drone attack was actually a government operative. We don't have the right to know whether a man involved with the 9/11 hijackers
was a government operative. We don't have a right to know whether the man who inspired the Fort Hood shooter was a government operative. We don't have a right to know whether a cleric who inspired the crotch bomber was a government operative.
No right to know.
"Astonishing" is too small a word.
This Fox News story
from a year ago (yes, Fox
) has some interesting further information about the FBI angle. Basically, in 2002, there was a federal arrest warrant for al-Awlaki, but he was allowed to walk. In a 2012 congressional hearing, FBI official Mark Giuliano said that the Bureau had let Awlaki go ten years earlier because the warrant was "weak."
One of the congressfolk in attendance, Republican Frank Wolf, didn't believe Giuliano. Wolf wrote to the Bureau asking (in essence) for a better story.
Fox News tells us more about what happened in 2002 (and believe me, it fries my ass to quote a Fox
In an incident first reported by Fox News as part of its ongoing investigation of the cleric, al-Awlaki was detained by customs agents at New York City's JFK airport because there was an active warrant for his arrest on passport fraud.
At the time, al-Awlaki was the subject of a full investigation by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and he had been interviewed at least three times in the first week after 9/11 because of his known contact with two of the hijackers. He was killed in September 2011 in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike.
On the morning of Oct. 10, 2002, FBI agent Wade Ammerman told customs agents to release al-Awlaki, even though court records show the arrest warrant was still active.
On a bipartisan basis, the committee rejected Giuliano's explanations as not believable, because after the cleric was released from federal custody at JFK on the say-so of Agent Ammerman, the cleric then turned up in Ammerman’s investigation in Virginia of Ali al-Timimi, who was later convicted of inciting terrorism. While Timimi’s case is on appeal, court records show he thought al-Awlaki was wired.
I know I've published this material before, but let me repeat my top ten reasons for suspecting that Awlaki was really "ours" all along:
1. He was born in New Mexico, even though he claimed to be a native-born Yemeni when he applied for an American Social Security card. (If you can figure that one out, please share with the rest of the class!)
2. He went to George Washington University, a school with strong CIA ties. (Any foreign national going to that school is a likely target for an Agency recruitment effort.)
3. Despite having undeniable ties to three of the 9/11 hijackers, the Pentagon invited him to speak at a formal luncheon. This was after the attack on the World Trade Center.
4. He was allowed to fly in and out of the country with impunity. Whenever he was outside the country, the FBI would issue statements to this effect: "Gosh, we'd really like to interview the guy, but he's beyond our reach." Yet whenever he was within our borders, he was left alone.
5. His death has been announced more than once.
6. A Murdoch-owned newspaper in Australia once as much as admitted that Awlaki cooperated with Yemeni authorities in an effort to round up Al Qaeda members in Yemen.
7. In 1994, Awlaki set up secure communications for Bin Laden using military phone lines.
8. During Awlaki's time in this country, the authorities routinely turned a blind eye to his legal problems. He was twice busted for soliciting prostitutes, yet nothing came of either incident. The man had a guardian angel.
9. He was not officially tied to the 9/11 attacks until 2008, even though he had helped the hijackers rent an apartment.
10. For the most part, nobody censored or impeded his YouTube calls for Jihad.
If you don't believe the above -- and if you want to see some links -- I strongly recommend that you take a look at this lengthy Cannonfire investigation.
(I'm proud of that one.) Also see here
As noted above, the Australian newspaper which "outed" Awlaki as a likely intelligence operative is owned by Rupert Murdoch. And right now, the otherwise-execrable Fox News seems to be the only media entity willing to ask hard questions about Awlaki.
explain any of this...?