2,332. 8/31/2001

Then-CIA Director George Tenet wrote: “By August 31 [2001], with no FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] in sight to allow access to [potential terrorist Zacarias] Moussaoui’s belongings, we began working up a scheme with the FBI that would have had Moussaoui deported to France. Our plan was to load Moussaoui’s belongings separately, then turn his laptop and luggage over to French authorities for exploitation once he arrived in Paris. (The French did not require the same high level of probable cause that the FBI thought it needed in order to conduct a search.) Ultimately we learned that the key lay not in Moussaoui’s computer but in his luggage. …If we’d had those letters in Moussaoui’s luggage connecting him to [9/11 hijackers supporter Yazid] Sufaat and–through Sufaat, back to [hijackers Khalid] al-Mihdhar and [Nawaf] al-Hazmi, who had just been placed on our watchlist–is it possible…[we would have made] all the necessary connections? While all of us [CIA members] involved lie awake at night asking ourselves this question, I do not believe there was a silver bullet available to us to stop the tragedy of 9/11.”

 – George Tenet with Bill Harlow, At the Center of the Storm, Pages 203-204

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