A follow-up on Robert Hanssen's spying and the FBI's ability to track al Qaeda before and after 9-11.
This article repeats Vise's allegation that Hanssen indirectly helped AQ:
From 1982 until 2001, Hanssen gave away secrets including outlines of America's contingency plans for nuclear attack, the identities of Russian double agents, US intelligence plans, the existence of a spying tunnel under the Russian embassy in Washington and a software program that was later sold by a Russian individual to the al-Qaeda network, enabling Osama bin Laden to evade detection for two years before the September 11 attacks. The extent of Hanssen's spying led former CIA director William Webster to liken his actions to ''a 500-hundred-year flood".This Fox News report makes the same point but is based on William Webster's investigation in the wake of Hanssen's arrest:
Hanssen sold the COIN applications to the Russians, and U.S. intelligence believes that the software was in turn provided to Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden by Russian organized-crime figures.Another key quote from the Autrailian story:
Government officials say the software may enable bin Laden to track the international investigation of terror assets and keep his money from being seized.
The United States is not the only nation to use the COIN software.
"The Hanssen case was a wake-up call. The belief that serious spying ended with the Cold War couldn't be more wrong," Vise said. ''At the time of Hanssen's arrest [just over a year ago], there were more Russian spies in America than there were at the height of the Cold War. The intelligence community thinks they number in the thousands.Here is Hanssen himself as reported by the Webster Commission:
''The information and intelligence they gather is of tremendous value, not only to the person who steals it but to the person he sells it to, as we've seen in the al-Qaeda's purchase of intelligence software that Hanssen stole.
"Any clerk in the bureau could come up with stuff on that system (FBI's Automated Case Support program). It was pathetic. It's criminal what's laid out. What I did was criminal, but it's criminal negligence what they've done on that system."
I think this information in important in light of Terry McDermott's blithe assertion that:
Atta's academic, immigration, credit, transit and telephone records provide a fairly complete account from the time he left his native Egypt in autumn 1992 to his death. This includes the period during which Able Danger is said to have identified him as a terrorist in the United States. The story those records, and corroborating interviews, tell is that Atta was not in the United States and made almost no contact with the U.S. until June 2000.