The FBI might have been able to stop some of the September 11th hijackers if it had more aggressively pursued an investigation of alleged 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui, who was in custody for more than three weeks prior to the attacks, this according to Minnesota FBI agent Coleen Rowley in a blistering and highly unusual letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller. Rowley is particularly critical of a supervisory special agent at FBI headquarters, whom she accused of “consistently, almost deliberately, thwarting the Minnesota FBI efforts.” The letter says, even on the morning of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Washington supervisor instructed Rowley and her colleagues to hold off on action against Moussaoui, arguing his arrest after suspicious behavior at a flight school was probably a coincidence. Rowley also accuses FBI Director Mueller of covering up the FBI’s mistakes.
Meanwhile, a new Time-CNN poll has found that more than one-half of those surveyed feel the FBI, CIA and President Bush’s top advisers bear at least some responsibility for not preventing the September 11th attacks. Nearly one-half say Bush himself is very or somewhat responsible for a lack of action to stop the attacks.
Álvaro Uribe stormed to a landslide victory in Colombia’s presidential election Sunday. The Harvard- and Oxford-educated lawyer fiercely criticized negotiations with left-wing rebels. He has pledged a dramatic increase in military spending to more than $4 billion and to double the number of police and professional soldiers to take on the rebels. Critics say Uribe is a warmonger, and the Liberal Party candidate accused him of links with right-wing paramilitaries. U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson rushed to the new president’s campaign headquarters at a Bogotá hotel to congratulate him even before he declared victory. She said, “Colombia and the U.S. have many big issues to deal with — drug trafficking, human rights and the fight against terrorism. We’re ready to work with the next government.” Meanwhile, Colombian authorities have granted asylum to Venezuelan coup leader Pedro Carmona. Carmona grabbed power briefly from democratically elected President Hugo Chávez last month.
Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated over the weekend, after Pakistan defied international calls for restraint and tested two nuclear-capable missiles. After the successful firings, Pakistan’s chair of the Joint Chief of Staff called Pakistan’s defenses impregnable and said the massing troops on the border and “coercive attitude of any power could not frighten the valiant armed forces of Pakistan.” But the Indian prime minister on Sunday played the terrorist card with the West. He said, “We want to tell the international community that when the whole world is united against terrorism, the U.S. forces are in Afghanistan, why should we bear these acts of terrorism, and for how long?” The Indian prime minister received support from President Bush, who urged Pakistan to prevent cross-border attacks into Kashmir.
Several thousand people marched through Paris Sunday to protest President Bush’s two-day visit. People raised a number of issues, ranging from capital punishment to corporate-led globalization and U.S. global domination. Marchers shouted, “Bush, you’re the terrorist!” Several protesters hoisted a large picture of a pretzel with a sign that said, “Watch out, Bush!” The president choked on a pretzel earlier this year while watching football. He lost consciousness for a few seconds and fell and hurt his head.
In San Francisco, an antiwar protest on the Golden Gate Bridge turned ugly Saturday when police stopped traffic to arrest demonstrators, causing a backup several miles long. An alliance called the All People’s Coalition to Stop U.S. Terror and Occupation organized the march. They had a permit to cross the bridge, but police arrested 30 of them anyway.