The Terrible Missed Chance
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Newsweek Magazine
Posted: September 20th, 2011
It was early afternoon on Friday, Aug. 17, 2001. Special Agent Harry Samit of the FBIs Minneapolis field office [sat] across from ... Zacarias Moussaoui, a 33-year-old French-born student arrested the day before for overstaying his visa. Samit, a former intelligence officer at the Navys celebrated Top Gun flight school, felt sure the man across the desk from him was a Muslim extremist who was part of a plot to hijack a commercial jetliner filled with passengers. That same day [at] FBI headquarters ... in Washington, counterterrorism supervisors were treating Samits first reports about Moussaoui with skepticism, even contempt. New disclosures about Samits story suggest that FBI agents in Minneapolis were much closer to unraveling the 9/11 plot than previously known. The officials directly involved in the case were denied access to a key internal memo - prepared for outgoing FBI Director Louis Freeh - that could have allowed the Minneapolis field office to connect the dots and possibly preempt the attacks. Their efforts were thwarted by a group of arrogant, slow-moving supervisors at FBI headquarters. There is no clear reference to the Freeh memo in the 9/11 commissions report.