Ex-FBI Agent: Why I Support a New 9/11 Investigation


 

By Coleen Rowley

In the absence of my being there in New York City to stand with the 9/11 families, first responders and survivors, I offer the following statement in support of your goal of a new investigation into the attacks of September 11th and the NYC CAN campaign to place it on the ballot for November.

coleenrowleyAt the time of 9-11, I had been an FBI agent for over 20 years. My main responsibilities by then were teaching criminal procedure to FBI agents and other law enforcement officers, mostly about 4th Amendment search and seizure, 5th and 6th Amendment law of interrogation, right to attorney and constitutional protection of rights to “free speech”, due process, habeas corpus, and against cruel and unusual punishment. A week before 9-11, I and the rest of the FBI’s ethics instructors were mandated (as a result of an earlier public FBI scandal) to give a one hour PowerPoint presentation, a form of remedial training on “law enforcement ethics” which I accomplished in a fairly perfunctory way, just reading the slides.

After 9-11, with the knowledge I had of the bitter internal dispute inside the FBI that was being hushed up but had kept some of our better agents from possibly uncovering more of the 9-11 plot before it happened, I couldn’t forget two of the slides in that Law Enforcement ethics curriculum: “DO NOT: Puff, Shade, Tailor, Firm up, Stretch, Massage, or Tidy up statements of fact.” And “Misplaced Loyalties: As employees of the FBI, we must be aware that our highest loyalty is to the United States Constitution. We should never sacrifice the truth in order to obtain a desired result (e.g. conviction of a defendant) or to avoid personal or institutional embarrassment.”

The official dissembling and excuse-making about the true causes and prior mistakes that gave rise to and allowed the terrorist attacks to happen, almost immediately ushered in the Bush-Cheney Administration’s egregious and lawless, post 9-11 “war on terror” agenda which bore no connection to the original causes and no connection to the goal of reducing terrorism and making the world safer. When I got a chance, about 8 ½ months after 9-11 to tell what I knew, I did so and my disclosures led to further investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General and figured in the 9-11 Commission Report.

But it was way too late for this emerging bit of truth that has continued to leak out in dribs and drabs to have any impact. The laws themselves, especially the criminal procedure ones rooted in the Constitution that I had spent my career teaching to law enforcement, have largely gone up in smoke. Having seen the cost of remaining silent, I publicly warned, a few months after my first memo, against launching the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. But false agendas had already filled the vacuum created by lack of truth. And we are still dealing with the disastrous consequences of these unjustified, pre-emptive wars.

Let me therefore simply repeat the request I made to the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2002: “Foremost, we owe it to the public, especially the victims of terrorism, to be completely honest. I can only imagine what these crime and terrorism victims continue to go through. They deserve nothing but the complete, unfettered truth.”

Therefore, I fully support the 9/11 families, first responders, survivors and over 60,000 other New Yorkers who have endorsed a new 9/11 investigation in New York City as advanced by ballot referendum this coming November election.

Coleen Rowley is a former FBI staff attorney who turned whistle-blower after witnessing repeated failures within the bureau to properly investigate alleged 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. She was one of three Time Magazine Persons of the Year in 2002.

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