WASHINGTON – As WorldNetDaily first reported, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who has been criticized for refocusing counterterrorism efforts on “right-wing groups,” will headline tomorrow’s Senate hearings probing Sept. 11 failures.
CIA Director George Tenet, another Clinton appointee, is scheduled to testify in Thursday’s hearing, jointly held by the Senate and House intelligence committees, a House Intelligence Committee aide said today. This week’s witness schedule has not yet been released to the press or posted on either committee website.
Despite alarming evidence of an escalation in
anti-American attacks from Islamic terrorist groups
like al-Qaida, Freeh in 1999 told Congress that
domestic “right-wing groups” posed “a very real
threat” to national security.
“While the United States holds little credible intelligence at this time indicating that international or domestic terrorists are planning to attack United States interests domestically through the use of weapons of mass destruction, a growing number (while still small) of ‘lone offender’ and extremist splinter elements of right-wing groups have been identified as possessing or attempting to develop/use chemical, biological or radiological materials,” Freeh said Feb. 4, 1999, in a prepared statement submitted to a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
“Additionally, religious/apocalyptic sects which are unaffiliated with far-right extremists may pose an increasing threat,” Freeh said.
Freeh seemed less worried about the threat from Islamic terrorist groups like al-Qaida, even though they had been responsible for a pattern of attacks from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to the 1996 bombing of U.S. military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.
“We are fortunate that in the nearly six years since the World Trade Center bombing, no significant act of foreign-directed terrorism has occurred on American soil,” Free testified.
As WorldNetDaily first reported July 25, veteran FBI agents have complained that the Clinton administration shifted counterterror efforts to fighting “right-wing groups” as part of a larger political strategy to demonize Republicans.
After the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton bashed the anti-big-government movement that led to the GOP takeover of Congress. He also took the opportunity to implicate talk radio for broadcasting “a relentless clamor of hatred and division.”
Freeh in his 1999 testimony defined “right-wing groups” as “militias, white-separatist groups, anti-government groups,” “tax protesters” and “anti-abortion” bombers.
He stressed that the bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., had “resulted in a significant allocation of FBI manpower and resources to the investigation.”
Freeh and his deputy Robert B. “Bear” Bryant moved counterterrorism analysts over to tracking “right-wing groups” and aiding in criminal prosecutions, agents have told WorldNetDaily. Intelligence-gathering on foreign threats suffered as a result.
“Sept. 11 proved that plan didn’t work,” concurred Washington Times national-security reporter Bill Gertz in “Breakdown,” his new book released in August. “It later came to light that headquarters ignored dedicated agents in the field who had flagged the suspicious activity of Middle Eastern men enrolled at U.S. flight schools.”
FBI agents knew the threat of homegrown terrorism from militias and other groups was not as serious as the growing threat of Islamic terrorism.
Yet Freeh and Bryant – under the direction of Attorney General Janet Reno – made “right-wing” terrorism the centerpiece of their strategy to combat Y2K security threats.
The strategy, called “Project Megiddo,” zeroed in on white supremacists, militias and Christian “extremists.” The project was outlined in a 32-page report that the FBI recently removed from its website.
The fear of homegrown terrorism proved overdone.
In fact, the only real terrorist threat in the new millennium came from an al-Qaida operative who tried to sneak into the U.S. from Canada with bombs to blow up Los Angeles International Airport.
Critics say the bureau wasted valuable resources that could have been better spent hunting down Osama bin Laden and eradicating al-Qaida sleeper cells in the U.S.
Republicans on this week’s joint panel exploring Sept. 11 failures are expected to press Freeh about the alleged politicization of the bureau under the Clinton administration.
Joining Freeh on tomorrow’s witness panel are former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., Paul Pillar, national intelligence officer for the CIA’s Northeast South Asia region, and Mary Jo White, former U.S. attorney in New York.
Thursday’s witnesses include Tenet, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the National Security Agency.
The joint panel – co-chaired by Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla. – will hold a closed session on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s and Thursday’s hearings, which will be held in Room 216 of the Senate Hart Building, are open to the public. They are slated to run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, with an hour break for lunch from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.