Pittsburgh Post Gazette : Kissinger resigns 9/11 post

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Kissinger resigns 9/11 post

By Dan Eggen | The Washington Post | December 14, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger abruptly resigned yesterday as head of a new commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks, complaining in a bitter letter to President Bush that concerns about conflicts of interest could "significantly" delay the panel's work.

The departure marked the second defection in three days from the high-profile panel, and ended two weeks of intense political infighting over whether Kissinger's controversial past and influential business contacts would sully the commission's eventual findings.

Kissinger had resisted calls from Senate Democrats that he publicly disclose his business clients in order to guard against any conflicts of interest.

The decision to quit was "a moment of disappointment for me," Kissinger wrote to Bush. "For over half a century, I have never refused to respond to the call from a president. Nor have I ever put my personal interests ahead of the country's interests."

He said that "in the end" he would have abided by whatever financial disclosure rules were applied to other members of the commission, but feared that "the controversy would quickly move to the consulting firm I have built and own."

"To liquidate Kissinger Associates cannot be accomplished without significantly delaying" the work of the commission, he wrote, referring to his New York-based company. "I have, therefore, concluded that I cannot accept the responsibility you proposed."

Just two days earlier, former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, had announced his own withdrawal as vice chairman of the commission, citing in part suggestions that he should sever ties to his law firm.

The 10-member, bipartisan commission, which will follow up on a joint House-Senate probe examining intelligence failures prior to Sept. 11, has yet to achieve a full slate of appointments and has been the focus of intense political infighting since it was created by Congress last month.

The withdrawal came as a surprising and disappointing setback for the White House, where officials had been convinced that Kissinger's name would bring credibility to an enterprise they had once resisted.

But the appointment had also prompted a steady stream of objections, including some from relatives of victims in the Sept. 11 attacks who questioned Kissinger's reliability and urged him to fully disclose his client list.

Kissinger met with 11 members of victims' families groups Thursday, telling them he did not believe that he had any conflicts of interest and promising to provide the families personally with details. But, according to several of the meeting's participants, he indicated that he did not intend to release the information publicly.

Stephen Push, a leader of Families of Sept. 11th, yesterday said he found "very puzzling" Kissinger's stated reason for resigning. "He told us that he had no conflicts, yet he's apparently resigning from an opportunity to serve his country so his clients can remain anonymous," Push said.

But another relative active in the follow-up investigations to Sept. 11, Kristen Breitweiser, said it was "admirable for him to acknowledge that he couldn't get around the conflict issue."

Kissinger called White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card yesterday afternoon to inform him of the decision, sources said. Bush said in a statement that he accepted Kissinger's resignation "with regret," and that "his chairmanship would have provided the insights and analysis the government needs to understand the methods of our enemies and the nature of the threats we face."

A senior aide said the administration hopes to find a replacement by Christmas, with a search to be conducted by Card, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Clay Johnson, the presidential personnel director.

Democrats have already named their five appointments to the panel, including former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton as vice chairman to replace Mitchell. Congressional Republicans have named only former Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington and have until tomorrow to appoint three more.

One senior White House official complained that the departures of both Mitchell and Kissinger show that onerous disclosure demands by Congress provide a "disincentive for good people to serve in government."

Kissinger's appointment, announced Nov. 27, was immediately attacked by some Democrats and liberal commentators, who argued that Kissinger's polarizing role in directing foreign policy during the Nixon and Ford years made him unfit to lead a panel aimed at unearthing unpleasant truths.

In the weeks that followed, debate on Capitol Hill shifted to whether Kissinger and other commission members should be required to publicly disclose their recent business contacts to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Some suggested that members should sever ties to their current businesses as well.

The fight came to a head this week, when the White House informed the Senate Select Committee on Ethics that administration lawyers concluded that Kissinger, as an unpaid presidential appointee, did not have to abide by congressional disclosure rules.

The Congressional Research Service issued a report last week concluding that all the panel's members, including Kissinger, would be required to identify clients who paid them more than $5,000 over the last two years.

Hamilton yesterday said "all five Democratic members support complete disclosure, and we will each comply fully" with congressional requirements for conflicts-of-interest disclosures.

SMH : Israeli agents accused of creating fake al-Qaeda cell

Monday, December 09, 2002

Israeli agents accused of creating fake al-Qaeda cell

By Sophie Claudet in Gaza City | December 9, 2002

A senior Palestinian security official says his services have uncovered an Israeli plot to create a fake al-Qaeda cell in the Gaza Strip, a charge Israel has dismissed as absurd.

The head of preventive security in Gaza, Rashid Abu Shbak, said Israeli agents posing as operatives of al-Qaeda recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"Over the past nine months we've been investigating eight [such] cases," Mr Abu Shbak said.

His claims came after the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said al-Qaeda militants were operating in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon, raising fears of an intensification of Israeli military occupations.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry branded the Palestinian claim as ridiculous and "some kind of propaganda campaign", adding that "the Palestinian territories have become a breeding ground for terrorism".

"There is no need for Israel to make up something like this because [the hardline Islamic movements] are all the same as al-Qaeda," the spokesman said.

Mr Abu Shbak said three Palestinians used by Israeli intelligence had been arrested, while another 11 were released "because they came and informed us of this Israeli plot".

Mr Abu Shbak said his services had traced back to Israel mobile phone calls and emails - purportedly from Germany and Lebanon - asking Palestinians to join al-Qaeda. One email had even been "signed" by the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.

"We investigated the origin of those calls and found out they all came from Israel."

The Palestinians recruited were then paired, unbeknown to them, with Israeli collaborators in Gaza, and received money and weapons, "although most of these weapons did not even work".

The money was provided by "Palestinian collaborators with Israel" directly to the recruits or "was transferred from bank accounts in Jerusalem or Israel", said Mr Abu Shbak, who did not dispute that as many as 11 Palestinians had welcomed the call to join al-Qaeda.

"Those who accepted were mostly members of the military wing of Palestinian organisations," he said, adding that although he could not say "there will never be al-Qaeda here, but at least not for now".

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has called Mr Sharon's al-Qaeda claim "a big, big, big lie to cover [his] attacks and his crimes against our people everywhere".

The Lebanese Government and Hezbollah have also dismissed the accusations.

Mr Sharon's announcement marked the first time Israel has officially claimed that al-Qaeda was operating in the Palestinian territories, and came as a surprise because the Gaza Strip is virtually sealed off by Israeli troops.

Israel has came under heavy international criticism for a raid on a Gaza Strip refugee camp on Friday that left 10 Palestinians dead, including two United Nations employees. The European Union and Arab states joined the UN in condemning the incursion into the densely populated Al-Bureij camp.

Agence France-Presse

Daily Times : Kissinger worst possible choice for investigation against state

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Kissinger worst possible choice for investigation against state

By David Corn | December 3, 2002

Asking Henry Kissinger to investigate government malfeasance or nonfeasance is akin to asking Slobodan Milosevic to investigate war crimes. Pretty damn akin, since Kissinger has been accused, with cause, of engaging in war crimes of his own. Moreover, he has been a poster-child for the worst excesses of secret government and secret warfare.

Yet George W. Bush has named him to head a supposedly independent commission to investigate the nightmarish attacks of Sept.11, 2001, a commission intended to tell the public what went wrong on and before that day. This is a sick, black-is-white, war-is-peace joke – a cruel insult to the memory of those killed on 9/11 and a screw-you affront to any American who believes the public deserves a full accounting of government actions or lack thereof. It’s as if Bush instructed his advisers to come up with the name of the person who literally would be the absolute worst choice for the post and, once they had, said, “sign him up.”

Hyperbole? Consider the record.

Vietnam: Kissinger participated in a GOP plot to undermine the 1968 Paris peace talks in order to assist Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign. Once in office, Nixon named Kissinger his national security adviser, and later appointed him secretary of state. As co-architect of Nixon’s war in Vietnam, Kissinger oversaw the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia, an arguably illegal operation estimated to have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Chile: In the early 1970s, Kissinger oversaw the CIA’s extensive covert campaign that assisted coup-plotters, some of whom eventually overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and installed the murderous military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. On June 8, 1976, at the height of Pinochet’s repression, Kissinger had a meeting with Pinochet and behind closed doors told him that “we are sympathetic to what you are trying to do here,” according to minutes of the session (which are quoted in Peter Kornbluh’s forthcoming book, “The Pinochet File.”)

East Timor: In 1975, President Gerald Ford and Kissinger, still serving as secretary of state, offered advance approval of Indonesia’s brutal invasion of East Timor, which took the lives of tens of thousands of East Timorese. For years afterward, Kissinger denied the subject ever came up during the Dec. 6, 1975, meeting he and Ford held with General Suharto, Indonesia’s military ruler, in Jarkata.

But a classified US cable obtained by the National Security Archive shows otherwise. It notes that Suharto asked for “understanding if we deem it necessary to take rapid or drastic action” in East Timor. Ford said, “We will understand and will not press you on the issue. We understand the problem you have and the intentions you have.” The next day, Suharto struck East Timor. Kissinger is an outright liar on this subject.

Argentina: In 1976, as a fascistic and anti-Semitic military junta was beginning its so-called “dirty war” against supposed subversives – between 9,000 and 30,000 people would be “disappeared” by the military over the next seven years – Argentina’s foreign minister met with Kissinger and received what he believed was tacit encouragement for his government’s violent efforts.

According to a US cable released earlier this year, the foreign minister was convinced after his chat with Kissinger that the United States wanted the Argentine terror campaign to end soon – not that Washington was dead-set against it. The cable said that the minister had left his meeting with Kissinger “euphoric.” Two years later, Kissinger, then a private citizen, traveled to Buenos Aires as the guest of dictator General Jorge Rafael Videla and praised the junta for having done, as one cable put it, “an outstanding job in wiping out terrorist forces.”

As Raul Castro, the US ambassador to Argentina, noted at the time in a message to the State Department, “My only concern is that Kissinger’s repeated high praise for Argentina’s action in wiping out terrorism...may have gone to some considerable extent to his hosts’ heads....There is some danger that Argentines may use Kissinger’s laudatory statements as justification for hardening their human rights stance.” That is, Kissinger was, in a way, enabling torture, kidnapping and murder.

Appropriately, Kissinger is a man on the run for his past misdeeds. He is the target of two lawsuits, and judges overseas have sought him for questioning in war-crimes-related legal actions. In the United States, the family of Chilean General Rene Schneider sued Kissinger last year. Schneider was shot on Oct. 22, 1970, by would-be coup-makers working with CIA operatives.

These CIA assets were part of a secret plan authorized by Nixon – and supervised by Kissinger – to foment a coup before Allende, a Socialist, could be inaugurated as president. Schneider, a constitutionalist who opposed a coup, died three days later. This secret CIA program in Chile – dubbed “Track Two” – gave $35,000 to Schneider’s assassins after the slaying. Michael Tigar, an attorney for the Schneider family, claims, “Our case shows, document by document, that [Kissinger] was involved in great detail in supporting the people who killed General Schneider, and then paid them off.”

On Sept. 9, 2001, 60 Minutes aired a segment on the Schneider family’s charges against Kissinger. The former secretary of state came across as partly responsible for what is the Chilean equivalent of the JFK assassination. It was a major blow to his public image: Kissinger cast as a supporter of terrorists. Two days later, Osama bin Laden struck. Immediately, Kissinger was again on television, but now as a much-in-demand expert on terrorism.

In another lawsuit, filed earlier this month, 11 Chilean human rights victims – including relatives of people murdered after Pinochet’s coup – claimed Kissinger knowingly provided practical assistance and encouragement to the Pinochet regime. Kissinger’s codefendant in the case is Michael Townley, an American-born Chilean agent who was a leading international terrorist in the mid-1970s. In his most notorious operation, Townley in 1976 planted a car-bomb that killed Orlando Letelier, Allende’s ambassador to the United States, and Ronni Moffitt, Letelier’s colleague, on Washington’s embassy row.

Kissinger has more trouble than these lawsuits. The Chilean Supreme Court sent the State Department questions for Kissinger about the death of Charles Horman, an American journalist killed during the 1973 coup in Chile. (Horman’s murder was the subject of the 1982 film “Missing.”) A criminal judge in Chile has said he might include Kissinger in his investigation of Operation Condor, a now infamous secret project, in which the security services of Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina worked together to kidnap and murder political opponents. (Letelier was killed in a Condor operation.)

The Spanish judge who requested the 1998 arrest of Pinochet in Great Britain has declared he wants to question Kissinger as a witness in his inquiry into crimes against humanity committed by Pinochet and other Latin American military dictators. In France, a judge probing the disappearance of five French citizens in Chile during the Pinochet years wants to talk to Kissinger. Last May, he sent police to a Paris hotel, where Kissinger was staying, to serve him questions. In February, Kissinger canceled a trip to Brazil, where he was to be awarded a medal by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. His would-be hosts said he had pulled out to avoid protests by human rights groups.

A fellow who has coddled state-sponsored terrorism has been put in charge of this terrorism investigation. A proven liar has been assigned the task of finding the truth. By the way, in 1976, when Kissinger was secretary of state, he was informed by his chief aide for Latin America that South American military regimes were intending to use Operation Condor “to find and kill” political opponents. Kissinger quickly dispatched a cable instructing US ambassadors in the Condor countries to note Washington’s “deep concern.”

But it seems no such warnings were actually conveyed. And a month later, this order was rescinded. The next day, Letelier and Moffit were murdered. (Peter Kornbluh and journalist John Dinges recently chronicled this sad Kissinger episode in The Washington Post.) Kissinger’s State Department had not responded with the force needed to thwart the official terrorism of its friends in South America. Perhaps this provides Kissinger experience useful for examining the government’s failure to prevent more recent acts of terrorism.

Other qualifications for the job, as Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney might see it? A leaks-obsessed Kissinger, when he served as Nixon’s national security adviser, wiretapped his own staff. (One of his targets, Morton Halperin, sued and eventually won an apology.)

And when he left office, Kissinger took tens of thousands of pages of documents – created by government employees on government time – and treated them as his personal records, using them for his own memoirs and keeping the material for years from the prying eyes of historians and journalists. He and the Bush-Cheney White House agree on open government: the less the better.

Remember, the White House was never keen on setting up an independent commission that would answer to the public. Cheney at one point reportedly intervened to block a compromise that had been painstakingly worked out in Congress regarding the composition and rules of the commission. Finally, the White House said okay, as long as it could pick the chairman and subpoenas would only be issued with the support of at least six of the commission’s 10 members.

With Kissinger in control, the secret-keepers of the White House – who already have succeeded in preventing the House and Senate intelligence committees’ investigation of 9/ll from releasing embarrassing and uncomfortable information – will have little reason to fear.

The Bush-Cheney administration has been a rehab center for tainted Republicans. Retired Admiral John Poindexter, a leading Iran-contra player, was placed in charge of a sensitive, high-tech, Pentagon intelligence-gathering operation aimed at reviewing massive amounts of individual personal data in order to uncover possible terrorists. Elliott Abrams, who pled guilty to lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal, was warmly embraced and handed a staff position in Bush’s National Security Council. But the Kissinger selection is the most outrageous of these acts of compassion and forgiveness. It is a move of defiance and hubris.

For many in the world, Kissinger is a symbol of US arrogance and the misuse of American might. In power, he cared more for US credibility and geostrategic advantage than for human rights and open government. His has been a career of covertly moving chips, not one of letting them fall. He is not a truth-seeker. In fact, he has prevaricated about his own actions and tried to limit access to government information. He should be subpoenaed, not handed the right to subpoena. He is a target, not an investigator.

With Kissinger’s appointment, Bush has rendered the independent commission a sham. Democrats should have immediately announced they would refuse to fill their allotted five slots. But after Bush picked Kissinger, the Democrats tapped former Democratic Senator George Mitchell to be vice-chairman of the panel, signaling that Kissinger was fine by them. How unfortunate. The public would be better served and the victims of 9/11 better honored by no commission rather than one headed by Kissinger.

—The Nation Magazine, USA

Newsweek : The Saudi Money Trail

Sunday, December 01, 2002

The Saudi Money Trail

By Michael Isikoff / December 1, 2002

When the two Qaeda operatives arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around New Year's 2000, they were warmly welcomed. Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar would help hijack American Airlines Flight 77 and crash it into the Pentagon a year and a half later, but that January in Los Angeles, they were just a couple of young Saudi men who barely spoke English and needed a place to stay. At the airport, they were swept up by a gregarious fellow Saudi, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had been living in the United States for several years. Al-Bayoumi drove the two men to San Diego, threw a welcoming party and arranged for the visitors to get an apartment next to his. He guaranteed the lease, and plunked down $1,550 in cash to cover the first two months' rent. His hospitality did not end there.

Al-Bayoumi also aided Alhazmi and Almihdhar as they opened a bank account, and recruited a friend to help them obtain Social Security cards and call flight schools in Florida to arrange flying lessons, according to law-enforcement officials. Two months before 9-11, al-Bayoumi moved to England; several months later, he disappeared. He is believed to be somewhere in Saudi Arabia.

Who is al-Bayoumi? At various times, the affable father of four told people that he was getting his doctorate at San Diego State, though the school has no record he ever attended. He told others that he was a pilot for the Saudi national airline. He apparently did work for Dallah Avco, an aviation-services company with extensive contracts with the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, headed by Prince Sultan, the father of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar. According to informed sources, some federal investigators suspect that al-Bayoumi could have been an advance man for the 9-11 hijackers, sent by Al Qaeda to assist the plot that ultimately claimed 3,000 lives.

The Feds' interest in al-Bayoumi has been heightened by a money trail that could be perfectly innocent, but is nonetheless intriguing--and could ultimately expose the Saudi government to some of the blame for 9-11 and seriously strain U.S.-Saudi ties. It is too soon to say where the trail will wind up, but it begins with a very surprising name on a Washington bank account.

About two months after al-Bayoumi began aiding Alhazmi and Almihdhar, NEWSWEEK has learned, al-Bayoumi's wife began receiving regular stipends, often monthly and usually around $2,000, totaling tens of thousands of dollars. The money came in the form of cashier's checks, purchased from Washington's Riggs Bank by Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the daughter of the late King Faisal and wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi envoy who is a prominent Washington figure and personal friend of the Bush family. The checks were sent to a woman named Majeda Ibrahin Dweikat, who in turn signed over many of them to al-Bayoumi's wife (and her friend), Manal Ahmed Bagader. The Feds want to know: Was this well-meaning charity gone awry? Or some elaborate money-laundering scheme? A scam? Or just a coincidence?

A spokesperson for Princess Haifa told NEWSWEEK that she had no idea the money was going to the al-Bayoumi family or that it might in any way be used for some nefarious purpose. Saudi officials and members of the royal family routinely give money to supplicants who need medical or financial help and write the embassy. Dwei-kat's husband, Osama Basnan, had first pleaded to the Saudi Embassy for help in 1998, saying that he needed money to treat his wife's thyroid condition. At the time, Prince Bandar wrote Basnan a $15,000 check. The monthly payments to his wife, Majeda, began in January 1999 and ended only last summer. Until she was contacted late last week by NEWSWEEK, Princess Haifa was unaware that the payments are being investigated by U.S. authorities, according to the spokesperson.

Questions over the money trail have enflamed a fierce, behind-the-scenes struggle between two congressional committees looking into 9-11 and the Bush administration. Senate Intelligence Committee co-chairman Robert Graham of Florida, a Democrat, and Richard Shelby of Alabama, a Republican, believe that the FBI failed to fully investigate 9-11. The lawmakers suspect that the administration does not want to look too closely at Saudi connections to the hijackers. The White House clearly fears jeopardizing U.S.-Saudi relations. In addition to Saudi oil, the United States needs Saudi bases to stage a possible invasion of Iraq. Administration officials reluctantly confirmed to NEWSWEEK that money had moved from Princess Haifa's account to al-Bayoumi, but they stressed that they do not know the purpose of the payments or whether any Saudi officials were even aware of them. "The facts are unclear, and there's no need to rush to judgment," said one administration official. In meetings with intelligence committee leaders, Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft and others have adamantly rejected attempts to declassify the information, citing national-security concerns.

There have long been persistent suspicions of Saudi financial involvement with Al Qaeda. Of the 9-11 hijackers themselves, 15 of 19 came from Saudi Arabia. Some American intelligence officials say the Saudis have been less than fully cooperative in the war on terror. Some wealthy Saudis have long been known to fund charities that are used as fronts to support terrorists. It would be shocking indeed if the Saudi government or members of the royal family were supporting Al Qaeda. Saudi officials insist that any such suggestion is preposterous. After all, Osama bin Laden's stated aim is to overthrow the House of Saud as lackeys for the Americans. But many investigators suspect that the Saudi royals wish to hold their enemies close, to learn what they are up to and, possibly, to buy insurance. The Saudi government, as well as many wealthy Saudi businessmen with close ties to the government, generously support radical imams who preach Wahhabism, a very conservative form of Islam, not just in Saudi Arabia but all over the world, including in the United States. The potential for mischief is great. Rogue elements could be secretly funding terrorists, perhaps by scamming unwitting members of the royal family. There is a thin line between militant Islam and terrorism, and the Saudis have not always been mindful of the difference. --Saudi intelligence officials scoff, however, at the suggestion that Prince Bandar's wife is being used to provide a slush fund for black ops. "To think that my government uses the bank account of the ambassadress to pay informants is both ludicrous and insulting," said Turki Al Faisal, former chief of Saudi intelligence.

The FBI is still trying to figure out if al-Bayoumi played a role in the 9-11 plot. Within a few days of the attacks last fall, New Scotland Yard, working with the FBI, had found him enrolled in a business graduate program at Birmingham, England's Aston University. The British investigators arrested al-Bayoumi, and tore up the floorboards in his house. They discovered records of phone calls to two diplomats in the Saudi Embassy in Washington. The officials, who worked in the Islamic section of the embassy, which supports mosques and Islamic charities, apparently offered innocent explanations to FBI investigators. Al-Bayoumi, who adamantly denied any connection to the attacks or knowledge of the hijackers' links to Al Qaeda, was released after a week without charge, and is believed to have disappeared to Saudi Arabia. Now the gumshoes "are desperate to find out whatever they can about this guy," says Kerry Steigerwalt, a lawyer for a young Yemeni student recently grilled by the FBI about al-Bayoumi.

Before he vanished, al-Bayoumi offered a benign explanation of how he met with Almihdhar and Alhazmi. He told investigators that he just happened to be in a restaurant at the Los Angeles airport and overheard the two men talking in Arabic. He introduced himself and offered to help the two newcomers get settled and adjust to life in southern California. It was a chance meeting, he insisted to the skeptical agents. His offer of help was nothing more than the usual charity extended by one Muslim "brother" to another.

Al-Bayoumi was a familiar figure in San Diego's burgeoning Islamic community. He was often seen at the mosque or at social functions, chatting amiably, almost always holding a video camera. Al-Bayoumi seemed to pay so much attention to the comings and goings of young Saudi college students that some were convinced that he was a Saudi government spy. "He was always watching them, always checking up on them, literally following them around and then apparently reporting their activities back to Saudi Arabia," said Henry Bagadan, a Pakistani businessman who worships at the San Diego Islamic Center.

After al-Bayoumi left San Diego in July 2001, the cashier's checks purchased by Princess Haifa continued to flow to Majeda Dweikat, who in turn signed many of them over to her husband, Osama. Basnan also befriended the two hijackers, Almihdhar and Alhazmi. After the terrorist attacks, Basnan, who was known as a vocal Qaeda sympathizer, "celebrated the heroes of September 11" and talked about "what a wonderful, glorious day it had been," according to a law-enforcement official. Wife Dweikat appears to have been at least a minor scamster. She was convicted of marriage fraud to obtain immigration papers and pleaded guilty--along with al-Bayoumi's wife, Manal--to shoplifting in April 2001. The checks from Princess Haifa stopped when Basnan was arrested for visa fraud last August. (He told a judge, "I love this country," but was ordered deported to Saudi Arabia.) Interestingly, Osama Basnan showed up in Houston last April when Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah came to town with a vast entourage en route to President George W. Bush's ranch. According to informed sources, Basnan met with a high Saudi prince who has responsibilities for intelligence matters and is known to bring suitcases full of cash into the United States--a practice not unheard-of among the Saudi elite. A Houston police report obtained by NEWSWEEK shows that Basnan complained he had been robbed of his Saudi passport and $400. It is dated April 25, the same week the crown prince was in town.

The congressional investigators looking into 9-11 argue that the Feds aren't doing enough to stop another attack. The FBI's failure to thoroughly investigate the Saudi connection reveals the bureau's inherent weakness as a counterterror organization, these investigators tell NEWSWEEK. Senator Graham has been pushing for a new domestic-intelligence service, modeled on Britain's M.I.5, to track terror cells in this country. Graham says he fears that a concealed terrorist "infrastructure" set up to support the 19 hijackers is still in place--waiting for a new call to action.

The Bush administration has been reluctant to give the congressional committee investigating 9-11 everything it asks for. Cheney and others believe that Congress is intruding on the executive branch's intelligence-gathering and foreign-policy-making powers and that a "witch hunt" will distract and hobble the CIA and FBI. But the administration may also worry that if investigators keep digging, the U.S.-Saudi relationship will wind up in a deep hole.