One former FBI agent is finding out firsthand that freedom of speech isn’t something guaranteed to every American. Colleagues at the CIA are keeping him from printing some of his own personal accounts in an upcoming book about the 9/11 attacks.
In his upcoming book “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda,” Ali H. Soufan wants to write that the Central Intelligence Agency could have had a chance at keeping the September 11 terror attacks from happening. Soufan says that the CIA knew about two of the hijackers involved in the al-Qaeda plot, and while that information might have been of great interest to the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency withheld the crucial information.
Specifically, Soufan says that the CIA had detailed information on 9/11 hijacker Abu Zubaydah as early as January 2000 but neglected to act on it.
Also in his memoirs, Soufan writes detailed accounts of CIA interrogations tactics that he saw brutally executed firsthand by agents, which were unnecessary and counterproductive. The agency is asking the author to remove the pronouns “I” and “me” from that chapter as if to discredit his personal accounts from specific incidents.
Unfortunately, Soufan’s stories might never make it to print if the CIA has their say. The former agent says that he is being told to take out key parts from his tales, and he believes it isn’t because of a national security scare, but because the CIA doesn’t want to be reflected poorly to the public.
As if that was even possible!
In a report released yesterday by The New York Times, Soufan’s attorneys claim that they received word that the CIA could end up “embarrassed” by the author’s allegations. Soufan responded to the Times that it is “ridiculous” that they are redacting so much material from his book, but that he will rally to have the information published in further editions.
Much of the material found in Soufan’s book has been available online and in print in the decade since 9/11, but the CIA says that doesn’t mean he can go ahead and talk about it. "Just because something is in the public domain doesn't mean it's been officially released or declassified by the U.S. government,” CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said in a statement.
Upon originally sending a proof of the 600-page manuscript to the Bureau, Soufan was told to prove that dozens of names listed in the document were not classified. He opted simply to substitute aliases for many of the names, but meanwhile the CIA sent the FBI a copy. Their response? Nearly 200 pages of suggested cuts.
With a deadline approaching, Soufan’s “The Black Banners” will hit the printing press this week, with the first edition using all of the cuts demanded by the FBI.