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FBI IGNORED A WARNING ON TERROR

A (feeble?) stab at an investigation?:
'Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina, said, "I think the American people are entitled to know why it appears, at least, that red flags were ignored before September the 11th."'
. If this guy is sincere, he should come out in support of Cynthia McKinney. He would be the first CP to actually do so ...
FBI IGNORED A WARNING ON TERROR

by Dan Eggen

WASHINGTON In some of the strongest public criticism of the FBI since Sept. 11, Democratic senators have upbraided the bureau for not aggressively pursuing an internal report last July that suspected terrorists might be enrolling in U.S. aviation schools.
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Robert Mueller, the FBI director, in his first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee since his confirmation last summer, testified Wednesday that following a recommendation from a Phoenix FBI agent to canvass flight schools for suspicious Middle Eastern students would not have uncovered the plans for hijacking attacks on New York and Washington.
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But Mueller, who has begun a reorganization of the FBI, acknowledged that the incident underscored "the weaknesses of our approach to counterterrorism prior to Sept. 11."
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"Do I wish that we had more aggressively followed up on that suggestion at the time? Yes," he said. "Are we taking steps to address what the failings were prior to Sept. 11? Absolutely." But Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, called the warning from the Phoenix agent "consequential."
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Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina, said, "I think the American people are entitled to know why it appears, at least, that red flags were ignored before September the 11th."
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The questions about the Phoenix case overshadowed efforts by Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson to focus their testimony on steps being taken by the Justice Department and FBI to combat terrorism. Mueller told the panel that months of laboratory tests and other analysis had not changed the FBI's profile of the likely culprit behind the anthrax attacks last autumn. FBI profilers have said the person is probably an adult man who works in a laboratory or has significant scientific expertise and who is familiar with the Trenton, New Jersey, area. The flight-school controversy began last summer during an FBI probe into Middle Easterners with possible terrorist ties. Investigators noticed that some had enrolled in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. Concerned that the group might be part of a hijacking or bombing plot, a Phoenix counterterrorism agent sent a cable to FBI headquarters recommending canvassing U.S. flight schools for suspicious Arabs and sharing the information with the CIA and other agencies.
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Mueller acknowledged that it had not been acted upon.
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Mueller also said the FBI never connected the Arizona suspicions with the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged hijacking conspirator who was arrested at a Minnesota flight school in August.

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