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May 22, 2002

John O'Neill, FBI Hero, Got Word in July, Was Rebuffed, "Retired" In Anger

NY Times, Incredibly, Reports And Then Blows Huge Story

A Crucial Piece Of The Bush Scandal Puzzle?

In a stunning revelation, the New York Times has reported that among the two FBI office counterterrorism chiefs who received the now famously neglected Phoenix memorandum last July was none other than John O'Neill -- then the top counterterrorist officer in the FBI's New York City's office, and the FBI's leading expert on Osama bin Laden.

O'Neill knew perfectly well what Al Qaeda was up to, and had been knocking on doors (and, at times, heads) for years to get his colleagues and superiors to understand what he did.

The last straw came in July 2001, when (as he told the French authors Guillaume Dasquié and Jean-Charles Brisard in an interview), O'Neill became fully aware that the Bush administration, anxious over negotiations for a Caspian Sea oil pipe line, had decided to back off of tracking bin Laden and opposing the Taliban, lest it risk alienating powerful Saudi families. Instead of going after the Taliban and bin Laden, the Bush Administration decided to negotiate and try to buy off the Taliban and bin Laden.

Unfortunately for the Administration, the pipe-line negotiations broke down in August.

And on September 11, bin Laden struck.

What no one has known until now is that at the very moment that O'Neill was finally giving up, in July, he was being apprised of the Phoenix memorandum -- a memo, it seems, that practically nobody inside the Bush Administration was willing to treat seriously other than himself.

At the end of August, in disgust, O'Neill left the FBI to take what he somewhat ruefully regarded as his "retirement" job --as head of security at the World Trade Center. There, on September 11, John O'Neill died at the hands of his arch-enemy bin Laden's fiendish followers.

Connect the dots? Well, duh! O'Neill got the Phoenix message. No one would listen. No one. The Bushies had backed off bin Laden. So O'Neill changed jobs -- and went on to die a martyr's death. While all the people who ignored him, on up the chain to the Oval Office, live on -- ghoulishly making political hay out of his sacrifice and their own incompetence -- and, in a sense, their own perfidy.

But here's the really amazing thing -- having unearthed this blockbuster, the New York Times reporters David Johnston and Don Van Natta, Jr., simply bury it in their story.

They report, incredibly, that O'Neill simply "retired" back in August -- ignoring the well-known background, leaving the dots unconnected!!

What did O'Neill know back in July? Whom did he try to warn? What happened when he did so? What did his "retirement" -- and its tragic consequences -- have to do with his frustrated efforts to get Bush's people to listen to him about the Phoenix memo, and/or about everything else he knew about Osama bin Laden's clear and present danger to American lives?

Here are some questions that the Bush people don't want asked, by the New York Times, by a National Board of Investigation, or by anyone else.

Who among ye Whores will have the guts to ask them -- and then have the additional guts to find the answers?

If you can't be stirred by common decency or by human justice or by old-fashioned professionalism, listen to this -- there's a Pulitzer Prize here for someone with enough guts.

Just connect the dots -- and do some intelligent reporting.

In death, the hero John O'Neill may just turn out to be the central clue to solving the Bush 9/11 scandal.

Which will still be cruel -- but at least might lead to justice.

Full Stories:

New York Times
New York Magazine