By Michael Meacher
Michael Meacher (email@example.com) is Labour MP for Oldham West and
Royton. He was environment minister 1997-2003
Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamist militant, is waiting to be hanged in
Pakistan for a murder he almost certainly didn't commit - of the Wall Street
Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Both the US government and Pearl's wife
have since acknowledged that Sheikh was not responsible. Yet the Pakistani
government is refusing to try other suspects newly implicated in Pearl's kidnap and
murder for fear the evidence they produce in court might acquit Sheikh and
reveal too much.
Significantly, Sheikh is also the man who, on the instructions of General
Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI),
wired $100,000 before the 9/11 attacks to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker. It is
extraordinary that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to
trial on this count. Why not?
Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11,
and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the
Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA,
and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When
Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the
hijackers, he was forced to "retire" by President Pervez Musharraf. Why hasn't
the US demanded that he be questioned and tried in court?
Another person who must know a great deal about what led up to 9/11 is Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, allegedly arrested in Rawalpindi on March 1 2003. A joint
Senate-House intelligence select committee inquiry in July 2003 stated: "KSM
appears to be one of Bin Laden's most trusted lieutenants and was active in
recruiting people to travel outside Afghanistan, including to the US, on behalf of
Bin Laden." According to the report, the clear implication was that they would
be engaged in planning terrorist-related activities.
The report was sent from the CIA to the FBI, but neither agency apparently
recognized the significance of a Bin Laden lieutenant sending terrorists to the
US and asking them to establish contacts with colleagues already there. Yet
the New York Times has since noted that "American officials said that KSM, once
al-Qaida's top operational commander, personally executed Daniel Pearl ... but
he was unlikely to be accused of the crime in an American criminal court
because of the risk of divulging classified information". Indeed, he may never be
brought to trial.
At least one senator will ask the Bush administration to disclose its reasons for asking the current archivist of the United States, former Kansas Democratic Gov. John Carlin, to resign, before approving his potential successor, Allen Weinstein.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., pointed to the White House's responsibility to provide Congress with an explanation for its decision to dismiss a sitting archivist and urged the other members of the Senate Governmental Affairs committee to join him in his request Thursday at Weinstein's nomination hearing.
Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was not aware Carlin had not resigned voluntarily until Levin brought forth a letter from him. She said she needed time to discuss the issue with Governmental Affairs ranking member Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., before deciding whether to request an explanation.
U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the November presidential election in case of an attack by al Qaeda, Newsweek reported on Sunday
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned last week that Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al Qaeda network may attack within the United States to try to disrupt the election.
The magazine cited unnamed sources who told it that the Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department (news - web sites) last week to review what legal steps would be needed to delay the election if an attack occurred on the day before or the day of the election.
The department was asked to review a letter to Ridge from DeForest Soaries, who is the chairman of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the magazine said.
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