Thursday, June 17, 2004

No link? 

The "New York Times" on a September 11 Commission conclusion:

"A report of a clandestine meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer first surfaced shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. And even though serious doubt was cast on the report, it was repeatedly cited by some Bush administration officials and others as evidence of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

"But on Wednesday, the Sept. 11 commission said its investigation had found that the meeting never took place.

"In its report on the Sept. 11 plot, the commission staff disclosed for the first time F.B.I. evidence that strongly suggested that Mr. Atta was in the United States at the time of the supposed Prague meeting.

"The report cited a photograph taken by a bank surveillance camera in Virginia showing Mr. Atta withdrawing money on April 4, 2001, a few days before the supposed Prague meeting on April 9, and records showing his cell phone was used on April 6, 9, 10 and 11 in Florida."
There are a few small problems with that:

1) how is Atta's withdrawing money from an ATM on April 4 the evidence that he was still in the US five days later, on April 9?

2) the phone records show his cell phone was used in Florida - unfortunately they don't show who actually used the phone. When he withdrew money on April 4, Atta was traveling with his roommate, Marwan Al-Shehhi. How can authorities be sure that Atta didn't leave his cell phone with Al-Shehhi or another associate?

None of it is really new stuff - you can read about it here and here. By the way, contrary to Western media reports in early 2002, the Czech authorities never officially backed down on their claim that the Prague meeting took place.


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