Ensuring silence by intimidation

Elias Davidsson

(Version 1.0)

(A) Eyewitnesses warned not to talk

According to the FBI, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari spent the evening of September 10, 2001 in Portland, Maine.  They were allegedly sighted at Pizza Hut and made a purchase at Wal-Mart, a few minutes before closure time.

New York Times reported: “Employees at the Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut have been instructed by the F.B.I. not to comment on what the men bought or ordered (…) Most said they had no recollection of the men anyway.”1

According to the New York Post, “Atta spent 17 minutes in the store. One security picture appears to show him in the store’s electronics department.  He is seen leaving at 9:39 p.m., carrying a plastic bag with his purchases. The FBI refused to say what Atta bought during one of his final encounters with American capitalism. A store manager and a Wal-Mart spokesman at the company’s Arkansas headquarters refused to give details of Atta’s visit, and said only that they are cooperating with the FBI.”2

One week later the New York Post published the following report:

“Staff members at the Wal-Mart in South Portland told The Post yesterday that Atta bought the $1.84 boxcutters he used to hijack American Airlines Flight 11 less than 12 hours before he commandeered the plane. (…) He got there just in time. The store closed for the day at 10.  The staffers, who asked not to be identified, said they had been warned not to give details. ‘We all know what he bought,’ one of them said. ‘We’re just not allowed to talk about it.’  The staffer was surprised the hijackers had not made their deadly purchase earlier. ‘It’s unbelievable they would leave it to the last minute,’ the staffer said. Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams refused to talk about what Atta purchased.”3

Whatever one makes of the above story, it should be obvious that if the person designated herein as Mohamed Atta did buy boxcutters – if the New York Port did not invent that story – he certainly did not do so in order to use them for the attacks of 9/11, for in that case, he would have not waited until the last minute. These boxcutters were neither seen nor found by anyone.  And none of the callers from flight AA11 reported that box cutters had been used.

Accordingly, it is possible that the secrecy regarding this purchase was staged to make the “revelation” that he bought boxcutters more credible.

A person who actually suffered for having volunteered information about Mohamed Atta to the FBI is Eileen Luongo, former nurse at a Fort Lauderdale center.4  She said she was only doing her civic duty when she dialed up the FBI to tell agents she had seen “Mohamed Atta” and some of his fellow hijackers in Miami-Dade County.5  As a result, she was fired.  FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said, “It was very important at the time that we talk to her. The information she had was very credible.”  Luongo said she recalled seeing “Mohamed Atta” in May [2001] at the Seawinds Healthcare Services, a rehabilitatioin center on 651 NE 88th Ter. in North Miami-Dade, where she worked at the time. “His features were so striking I stared at him for like two minutes and he stared back at me,” she said.  That same month, Miami-Dade police arrested Luongo and a doctor at the center on felony charges that were later dropped and expunged – charges of selling prescription and sample drugs without a license. The center closed in September. Luongo said she recognized three other “hijackers” – Satam Al Suqami, Marwan al-Shehhi and Waleed Alshehri  – as having come into her office at the center in August to write a letter on the computer. Luongo said the men asked her for help composing parts of the letter – asking her for another word for “absence”- though she did not know what the letter was about and said they spoke “another language”, much of the time.  She was in the room with them for up to 45 minutes, she told agents.  “They just came in like they knew where they were going and they had been there before,” said Luongo. “I don’t think I was supposed to have seen them because they came at a time when no one else was there.”  Luongo wondered whether eht men were acquaintances of the Dade center’s Egyptian owner, Mohammed Ibrahim, or his relatives. Ibrahim was later deported. The FBI confirmed it is following Luongo’s leads.

(B)  Prohibiting families of 9/11 victims to talk

Relatives of passengers and crew aboard the four airliners that were allegedly hijacked on September 11, 2001, were allowed to hear recordings of calls allegedly made from the planes. The relatives were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits them from discussing the contents of the recordings or of the briefings. They were not allowed to make recordings or take notes during the session. Agents asked the relatives to surrender all cell phones, palm pilots and pagers to prevent the recording of any of the day’s proceedings.

“The one thing that the [Justice Department] made irrefutably clear to us was that to the extent we disclose any information, we are only aiding the terrorists,” said Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother were on United Flight 93.6

“They were very clear,” Gordon Felt said. “What they said to us was, ‘We can’t tell you not to talk.’ We were never threatened, [but] they said the information on the tapes could be possibly used in the prosecution of Moussaoui, and anything that we say could affect the case in a negative way. As much as we want the world to know” the contents of the tape, “we want this person convicted and to take responsibility. We don’t want to jeopardize that.”7

To prevent anyone from talking to Sandra Felt, “[a]gents surrounded Sandy and her mother-in-law on their walk through the asphalt parking lot” to their car.

The above was corroborated by Donald Migliori, a lawyer who represented 14 families in lawsuits against the airlines and who settled out of court. He said the court has barred the parties to the settlements from talking about them or revealing how much money they received.8

Thanks to a gag order imposed on Ellen Mariani and her lawyer by the New Hampshire probate court, she can’t talk about the case publicly. The 9/11 family members who accepted settlements also had to sign non-disclosure clauses, which have the same effect as gag orders.9

(C)  Intimidating witnesses who appeared before the 9/11 Commission

On July 11, 2003, an Agreement was made between Philip Zelikow, Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission and the Department of Justice concerning the treatment of documents, information and witnesses relating to the investigation and prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui.10 According to the Agreement the Department of Justice will determine which documents are related or unrelated to the investigation and prosecution of Moussaoui. The Agreement thus effectively covers all documents, information and witnesses relative to the investigation of 9/11, as determined by the Department of Justice.

According to this Agreement, the staff of the Commission was to notify the Department of Justice no later than five business days in advance of interviews it intends to hold with any person listed in an Attachment to the Agreement. The Department of Justice (DOJ) also insisted and obtained the agreement of the Commission’s Executive Director, that a DOJ lawyer may attend the interview and that the Department of Justice may veto video or audio recording or other verbatim transcriptions of the interview. The Attachment lists numerous categories of individuals, comprising hundreds of persons, including Al Qaeda “cooperators”, journalists who interviewed Osama bin Laden, persons who received phone calls from the allegedly hijacked aircraft, family members of 9/11 victims, various “crime scene witnesses”, a certain number of employees of the New York Police Department and Fire Department, medical examiners who worked on 9/11 victims/matters, American Airlines personnel who worked at Dulles Airport on 9/11, instructors, owners, students or employees of various flight schools, family members of Ziad Jarrah, members of the Islamic community in Hamburg (Germany), employees of hotels where alleged hijackers resided, NTSB personnel who worked on reconstruction/simulations of flights 11, 175, 77 and 93, and many others.

Philip Zelikow and General Counsel Daniel Marcus of the 9/11 Commission, had previously expressed in a letter to the Department of Justice their desire to interview witnesses

without the potentially intimidating presence of an agency official, particularly a lawyer, supervisor, or more senior official.  We note that the Administration itself recognizes that principle in many of the investigations it charters – notably the current outside inquiry into the shuttle disaster by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, where no agency representatives are present at interviews. It is no less critical, we submit, that the American people have confidence in the integrity and independence of our factual investigation than it is in the case of the Columbia disaster.11  

As reported above, they did not press their demand and made the above Agreement with the Department.

In a letter of July 24, 2003, Daniel Levin of the Department of Justice, addressed the issue of interview recordings with remarkably specific requests:

In a further effort at accommodation, we will depart from longstanding Executive Branch practice and accept your request for a presumption that interviews will be recorded if the interviewee does not object and if the government timely receives a copy of the recording. This agreement does not apply, however, to interviewees potentially related to the Moussaoui case, who are addressed in the separate agreement relating to that case. Moreover, in certain circumstances, which we expect will be rare, we reserve the right, consistent with established practice, to object to recording because of specific issues relating to that particular interview.12

In his letter, Daniel Levin further pointed out that the Department of Justice has „not yet reached agreement [with the Commission] on how to handle interviews of former [federal] employees who do not request that an agency representative be present.”

The above efforts by the Department of Justice to attach “minders” to interviewees and to monitor those persons the 9/11 Commission might wish to interview, indicates the extent to which the Government has gone to thwart an independent and impartial investigation of 9/11.

The effects of having minders at interviews are visible in interviews conducted by Commission staffers with FAA personnel with an FAA attorney attending.

On October 2, 2003, Commission staffer John Farmer, Dana Hyde and Lisa Sullivan interviewed Greg Dukeman, an air traffic controller from Cleveland. In attendance was Michael McKinley, FAA attorney.  In order not to compromise himself and the FAA, Greg throughout the interview claims not to remember, provides vague answers and plays dumb:

• “When the military bases want to do their exercises you have to coordinate with the space involved in the release.”

• To his knowledge, there was nothing he was supposed to do in the role of Military Operations Specialist in the TMU in the event of a hijacking. He does not know if he was supposed to call the military. He wouldn’t know who to call.

• Half an hour later, he got a call about a possible hijack inbound to Cleveland; a Delta flight. He was not familiar with the caller’s voice. He doesn’t remember who it was…He thinks it may have been a call from Huntress.

• Someone said there were other planes out there.

• That day at his deak, there were 5 lines coming in. He thinks the call regarding Delta might have been from a military facility.

• There was also some “discussion” on what to do next.

• (He remembers going secure on the line at that point with “the Pentagon,” or some other military facility in Washington, DC.

• He claims to have “dialed somebody in Washington”.

• He is not sure how that works. He thinks that the Pentagon, FAA HQ, Command Center and Huntress were all on the conference call. He wasn’t sure about this point.

• He remembers getting a call on the military operations desk from a Major asking him, “Where do you think the closest place is we could get fighters.” He said he had no idea.

• Them someone was on the phone they were on the tarmac and out in five minutes.

• He remembers receiving a call from Huntress confirmed the Delta hijack (a female voice). It was the same person he talked to earlier. He did not talk to her about United Airlines flight 93.

• “It is fair to say there were a number of conversations that morning”, he said….There was talk of evacuating the facility…He was never asked to fill out a statement….Military operations were not “his thing.”

(D) Intimidating members of Congress, Part I

On October 15, 2001, it was disclosed that Tom Daschle’s office had received an anthrax letter, and that several members of his staff had been exposed.  By the 18th of October it was disclosed that as many as 31 Senate staff members had tested positive for anthrax.13

• Senator Patrick Leahy has never accepted the FBI’s decision to close the case in the series of anthrax-laced letters mailed to public officials in fall 2001.”I still wonder who sent it and why they sent it.”

• In a brief interview Tuesday, he said he has “extreme doubts” about the case. “I’ve expressed those concerns to the FBI ,and this report (the NAS report) adds to those concerns,” Leahy said.

• On Tuesday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime FBI critic, called for an independent review, and Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), from whose district the letters to Leahy and others were mailed, called for Congress to create an independent commission to examine the entire case.

• For years the targets of the Capitol Hill-bound letters felt shut out of the anthrax investigation, which included an official blackout of any congressional briefings ordered by the Bush administration in 2004.

• A huge collection of former Daschle staff members now occupy the highest echelon of posts in the Obama administration. Pete Rouse, then the chief of staff to the majority leader, is President Obama‘s deputy chief of staff. Laura Petrou, the top aide in Daschle’s suites in the Hart Senate Office Building, where an anthrax letter was opened Oct. 15, 2001, is now chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services. Mark Patterson, then Daschle’s top policy adviser, is chief of staff at the Treasury Department.

• “It is mystifying. Given the limited number of people who have experience with anthrax, you just wouldn’t think it would be this hard,” said another official who had been briefed on the Amerithrax investigation.

In this connection, it should be mentioned that Tom Daschle opposed the adoption of the PATRIOT Act. Getting him into line was a critical task for the Bush administration, because Daschle was the Majority Leader in the Senate.  The intimidating worked. The PATRIOT Act passed without debate on October 24th, 2001.  On January 29, 2002, CNN announced that both the president and vice-president had asked Daschle to limit any congressional investigations into the attacks of 9/11.  Not only did Daschle comply, he delayed public investigations until revelations from other sources, particularly from rank-and-file FBI agents, dictated that they had to be held in order to maintain the credibility of the American goverment. (Ruppert, p. 270)

Another important Senator, Pat Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had to be intimidated because he demanded that Attorney General John Ashcroft appear to answer questions to his committee. Pat Leahy was critical of Ashcroft’s moves to allow the wiretapping of attorney-client conversations, the secret detention of foreign nationals without trial, and the establishment of secret military tribunals.  So, on November 16, 2001 Senator Leahy received his own anthrax letter. And the anthrax sent to Leahy’s office was powerful, concentrated at a trillion spores per gram.  When, on December 6, Ashcroft finally made an appearance before the Judiciary Committee, he was treated with kid gloves in an appalling display of total surrender.

It was not for some months that the American public and the world were to learn that the Ames strain of anthrax, which was identified as the strain sent to Congress, was solely and exclusively the product of a CIA weapons research program involving the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), the Dugway Proving Ground, and the Batelle Memorial Institute. (Ruppert p. 271).  [According to the NYT of Sept. 4, 2001 – an article possessed by myself] the main work on anthrax was done by the intelligence arm of the DOD, the DIA, at the Batelle Memorial Institute.

(E)  Intimidating members of Congress, Part II

The FBI request that Congressmen subject themselves to lie detector tests and other questioning is a transparent attempt to intimidate the Democratic and Republican politicians who have called for a probe of intelligence “lapses” in connection with September 11.

As the New York Times editorialized, speaking undoubtedly for major sections of the ruling establishment, “One way to chill a Congressional investigation is to send a flock of FBI agents to Capitol Hill to ask legislators to take polygraph tests and answer questions about their dealings with reporters. Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening these days at the Senate and House Intelligence Committees as they review the government’s response to terrorist threats in the years leading up to last September 11.”14

(F)  Gagging air traffic controllers

Air-traffic controllers in Cleveland who tracked the last minutes of Flight 93 on radar have been forbidden by the authorities to speak publicly about what they saw on their screens.15  What did they see on their screens, which was so toxic to the official account? Did they witness evidence that the flight was shot down, as suggested by numerous eyewitnesses on the ground? Or did the follow the flight westwards?

(G) Gagging airlines employees

An American Airlines spokeswoman said all its employees have been ordered not to speak to the press [regarding the events of 9/11].16

Paul Sperry of WorldNetDaily reported one year after 9/11 that American Airlines “continues to gag all employees from talking about the Sept.11 hijackings.”17

Tim Doke, the American Airlines vice president for corporate communications, later recounts that the “FBI essentially gagged us from any meaningful media interaction immediately following the terrorist attacks.” [Jack O’Dwyer’s Newsletter, 12/4/2002] American Airlines’ first press release, issued within a few hours of the attacks, will refer all questions to the FBI. [PR Week, 11/5/2001]

Michael Renz and Guy Smith, who produced the film “Der 11. September 2001” for the German TV station ZDF, reported to have, in their research for the film, encountered many closed doors and a reluctance to provide information.  Privately, their interlocutors admitted that they feared reprisals or were simply gagged.. Renz tried to film the wreckage for a documentary. He met walls of silence wherever he went:  United Airlines, their insurers and the FBI.18 He said: “But when we talk with officials off-the-record, many say a gag-order has been handed from the top.”19

(H )  Gagging Venice city employees 

As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approached, Venice City (Florida) Manager Marty Black sent notice to the city’s employees that the were “not allowed to speak to the media about 9/11 without his clearance.” As many know, three of the alleged pilots of 9/11 received most of their aircraft training at Venice, Florida. Black, interviewed by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, said he didn’t “want people guessing about what may have happened.”20  At the time of the interview, none of Venice’s high officials were the same as those who served the city on 9/11. The mayor, city manager, airport manager and every member of the City Council have been replaced since 9/11.21 The FBI, meanwhile, has been reluctant to mention Venice as the main staging area of the alleged terrorists. It does not even indicate that location among the residences of the alleged hijackers on its website.22


1. Pam Belluck, The Night Before: A Mundane Itinerary on the Eve of Terror, New York Times, October 5, 2001. Author’s document #556

2. Brian Blomquist, The Day Terror Came to Wal-Mart – Cameras Capture Killers’ Final Hours, New York Post, October 5, 2001. Author’s document #558

3. Cindy Adams and John Lehmann, Final Hours of Hijack Monster, New York Post, October 12, 2001. Author’s document #559

4. Andrea Elliott, Nurse: I was fired after talk to FBI, The Miami Herald, November 29, 2001. Author’s document #947

5  Andrea Elliott, “She told agents of spotting terrorists: an `emergency’”, The Miami Herald, November 29, 2001

6. Phil Hirschhorn, Families hear heroism on 9/11 calls from planes, CNN, June 4, 2004, cached at

7. Steve Levin, “It hurts to listen”, Post-Gazette, April 21, 2002, at

8. Anemona Hartocollis, More 9/11 Lawsuits Are Settled, New York Times, September 18, 2007. At  Author’s document #479

9. Craig McKee, Last-minute donation keeps hope alive for 9/11 widow’s appeal, 4 November 2012, Truth and Shadows,

10. Letter from the Department of Justice to Philip Zelikow, dated July 11, 2003 and Attachment. Author’s document #470

11. Letter from the Department of Justice to Philip Zeliow dated July 1, 2003. Author’s document #468

12. Letter from the Department of Justice to Philip Zelikow dated July 24, 2003. Author’s document #469

13  Philip Shenon, Suspicious Letter to Senator Tests Positive for Anthrax, New York Times, November 17, 2001; also Andrew Goldstein and Elaine Shannon, “The New Anthrax Letter: Why Senator Leahy?“ Time Magazine, Nov. 26, 2001

14  By Peter Daniels, “White House uses FBI to intimidate congressional probe of September 11”, WSWS, August 19, 2002

15. John Carlin, Unanswered questions: the mystery of flight 93, The Independent, August 13, 2002. Author’s document #759

16. Paul Sperry, Hijacking ringleader was ‘sweating bullets’,, September 21, 2001, Doc.041-gagging.pdf

17. Paul Sperry, Airline denied Atta paradise wedding suit. At last minute, American turned away luggage containing cologne, gold Koran, WorldNetDaily, September 11, 2002. Author’s document #858

18. Kerstin Decker, ‘Da ist was im Busch’, Tagesspiegel, 11. September 2007,,2376887

19. Barbara Möller, ‘War es eine Verschwörung ?’ [Was it a conspiracy?], Hamburger Abendblatt, 11 September 2007,

20. atrick Whittle, Ginny LaRoe and Heather Allen, The city that wants to forget, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 10, 2006. Author’s document #423.

21. Ibid

22  FBI Press Release, September 28, 2001