This is one item guaranteed not to appear in Page Six, the edgy gossip column that is the single reason most educated New Yorkers buy The New York Post. Yesterday, after a Post editor agreed to run a review of my new book TRIPLE CROSS in their Sunday edition, Bob McManus, editor of the editorial page abruptly cancelled the review. This after editor-in-chief Col Allan, an Aussie and close friend of owner Rupert Murdoch, learned that the author of the "review" was none other than Andrew C. McCarthy, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the SDNY who I indicted in the book for failing to stop al Qaeda's master spy Ali Mohamed.
McCarthy had already shot from the hip with an attack on TRIPLE CROSS when I appeared on The O'Reilly Factor the night the book hit the stores. The 670-page work had barely been on the shelves of Barnes & Noble when McCarthy fired off this invective, which The Factor featured on screen:
"This (book) is scurrilously presented. Everything he says we were hiding about Ali Mohamed was presented in open court. It is represented in the book in a widely disingenuous way, relying on convicted terrorists and convicted murderers as sources."
When The Post's Books editor Abby Wisse Schachter, confirmed in writing that McCarthy would author a Sunday Op Ed page piece on TRIPLE CROSS, I wrote to Allan and ask for equal space. After all, from a sister News Corp. subsidiary to Fox News - which we know is always "fair and balanced," a chance to counter McCarthy's vitriol in the same forum was the fairest way to get a more complete vetting of my findings.
I also noted for editor-in-chief Allan that McCarthy's invective, aired nationally on Fox News, was not only inaccurate, but met the "malice" definition as enunciated in The New York Times vs. Sullivan -- the landmark defamation case that holds writers liable for a "reckless disregard for the truth." McCarthy was not only stung by my critical coverage of him and the Southern District prosecutor's office in the book, he was also wrong in alleging that I relied on "terrorists and convicted murderers as sources."
As a simple examination of the 32 page Timeline in the middle of the book makes it clear, I interviewed dozens of Government sources including a number of active duty and retired FBI agents. One of the book's principal sources, in fact, was Jack Cloonan, the Special Agent in the FBI's Squad I-49 charged with building a file on Ali Mohamed. It was Cloonan who spent hours with the al Qaeda spy de-briefing him after his 1998 arrest following the East African Embassy bombings which Ali planned five years earlier.
The book also contains 50 pages of end-notes and 30 pages of declassified documents from FBI and Justice Department files. I reviewed more than 40,000 pages of trial transcripts for the SDNY's al Qaeda cases including the "Day of Terror" case prosecuted in 1995 by McCarthy and Patrick Fitzgerald - the DOJ's principal bin Laden "brain," to quote Vanity Fair.
My documentation also includes a treasure trove of al Qaeda-related intelligence documented in a series of FBI #302 memos beginning in March, 1996 which Patrick Fitzgerald and other Feds effectively buried in order to hush up a scandal involving a prominent Supervisory Special Agent named Lin DeVecchio. The move also preserved a series of 60 Mafia cases that were in jeopardy of "unraveling," to quote Federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein.
After I had documented that story in my last book COVER UP, the Brooklyn D.A. indicted DeVecchio on four counts of second degree homicide. - Many of those FBI #302's can be accessed at peterlance.com.
One can understand why McCarthy might react to TRIPLE CROSS like a vampire facing a relic of "the true Cross." These are a few of my findings:
• That Fitzgerald and other top DOJ and FBI officials suppressed those 1996 al Qaeda related FBI #302's which included proof of a liquid-based airliner bomb plot that was a precursor to the August 2006 plot revealed by U.K. authorities. The evidence included proof of an active al Qaeda cell operating in NYC five years before 9/11.
• That Fitzgerald and McCarthy allowed Ali Mohamed to remain an active al Qaeda agent despite the fact that the FBI knew he had sworn allegiance to bin Laden as early as 1993. Mohamed moved the Saudi billionaire from Afghanistan to Sudan in 1991, trained his personal bodyguard in 1994, set up al Qaeda terror camps in Khartoum, and trained the terrorists responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing and Day of Terror plots;
• That after meeting Mohamed face-to-face in 1997, Fitzgerald called him "the most dangerous man I have ever met," and vowed, "We cannot let this man out on the street." Yet for another ten months he allowed Mohamed to remain free, while the al Qaeda spy continued to support the African embassy bombing plot he had set in motion in 1993--after being freed from custody on the word of his FBI control agent.
• That Mohamed had told Fitzgerald that he had "hundreds" of al Qaeda sleepers ready to go "operational" at any time--and yet to this day the FBI has failed to detect them;
• That Mohamed, who wasn't even arrested until a month after the 1998 embassy bombings, remained in U.S. custody for three full years before 9/11. But even after cutting a deal that allowed him to escape the death penalty and enter witness protection, Fitzgerald failed to extract the 9/11 planes-as-missiles plot from Mohamed.
• That as early as 1991 the FBI was aware of Sphinx Trading, a New Jersey mail box store directly linked to al Qaeda, but failed to monitor the location. Fitzgerald and McCarthy had named the store's co-incorporator (Waleed al-Noor) owner as an unindicted coconspirator in the 1995 Day of Terror case. Yet six years later, in July 2001, the FBI blew an extraordinary chance to interdict the 9/11 plot when two of the 9/11 hijackers got their fake IDs at the very same store.
As I noted on the Huffington Post detailing that story on November 17th,
"If the Feds had devoted as much energy to a surveillance of Sphinx as they had to (John Gotti's) Ravenite Social Club, they would have been in the middle of the 9/11 plot months before Black Tuesday."
That's not the kind of revelation, an ex-Fed like McCarthy, would want to see come out, especially since he now devotes much of his time to slamming the Clinton administration's national security blunders as a regular contributor to The National Review Online.
Despite McCarthy's allegation to The Factor that "everything" I said the Feds were "hiding about Ali Mohamed was presented in open court" McCarthy himself had done his level best to make sure that didn't happen. It is undisputed that in December, 1994, after McCarthy and Fitzgerald added Ali Mohamed's name to that unindicted co-conspirators list, McCarthy flew to California with an FBI agent and had a personal face-to-face sit down with al Qaeda's chief spy.
At the time, defense attorney Roger L. Stavis was searching the globe for Mohamed, whom he wanted to testify in the upcoming "Day of Terror" case. With Ali on the stand, Stavis hoped to expose the cozy relationship between the U.S. Government and the ex-Egyptian Army officer turned Green Beret infiltrator and FBI informant.
This is how I described the incident in TRIPLE CROSS:
"Now, with Stavis seeking Mohamed's testimony, prosecutor Andrew McCarthy was worried. At that point, no one outside the Bureau or the SDNY knew that Ali had been an FBI informant. McCarthy could only guess what the former army sergeant might say if he got on the stand under oath in open court.
"If Ali would have been put on [the stand] at that point in time, [he] would have been viewed as an agent provocateur," says retired special agent Jack Cloonan. "Maybe there would have been an issue of entrapment raised. It wouldn't have helped the government's case."1 That subpoena became "a huge, huge issue for Ali" as well, remembers Cloonan.
As an al Qaeda spy who was playing two FBI offices off each other by that point, Mohamed had reason to be concerned. If he was compelled to testify in federal court with the national media covering the trial, the truth about his espionage career from Fort Bragg onward would have been exposed by defense attorneys like Roger Stavis. "That would have effectively blown his cover as an FBI informant," says Stavis, and "shut him down as a spy then and there."
But rather than helping to get Mohamed in front of the "Day of Terror" jury, McCarthy did nothing to facilitate his testimony and Ali never made it to the stand. In fact, as the book documents...
"...to maintain his cover as an FBI informant, Mohamed continued talking to the Feds. On December 22, an hour and twenty minutes after talking to Wadih El-Hage in Kenya, he called Andrew McCarthy.2 If the Bureau had been vigilant enough to monitor that single phone call, it might have led them to Osama bin Laden.
Why? Because as they eventually learned, the cell phone Mohamed used to call McCarthy was later used by El-Hage just before he went to see bin Laden.3
But Mohamed continued to snooker McCarthy. On February 2, 1995, just after the start of trial, McCarthy sent the list of unindicted co-conspirators to various defense attorneys in the Day of Terror case. Somehow Ali Mohamed got a copy of it. Did McCarthy give it to him? We don't know, but a copy was found in Mohamed's house when the Feds searched it more than three years later.4
Ali later admitted that "I obtained a copy of the co-conspirator list for the Abdel Rahman trial. I sent the list to El Hage in Kenya expecting that it would be forwarded to bin Laden in Khartoum."5 Using the code words of the tradecraft he knew so well, Ali addressed the list to "the Supervisor" (bin Laden), and signed it "Haydara," one of his many aliases.6
Thus, while pretending to cooperate with the Feds, he was betraying their most confidential communiqués.
Throughout his dealings with Andrew McCarthy, Mohamed remained loyal to al Qaeda. And yet McCarthy, who fully understood the deadly power of the "jihad army," seemed almost protective of him. Why? Why would an ex-U.S. marshal and savvy federal prosecutor like McCarthy, so willing to criticize Jamie Gorelick for raising the "wall," fail to connect the dots on Mohamed himself after meeting with him face to face at the end of 1994?
No wonder with that kind of reporting Andrew McCarthy would want to see TRIPLE CROSS pulped. No wonder Fox News would be so quick to air his false allegations. And no wonder The New York Post would kill McCarthy's "review" of the book after I demanded equal space. Already a trio of ex-feds in addition to McCarthy have done their level best to water down the stunning findings in TRIPLE CROSS.
As I detailed on the Huffington Post on August 29th, last summer, Jack Cloonan, former Joint Terrorism Task Force investigator Det. Tommy Corrigan and McCarthy's former boss, Mary Jo White all worked to deny me access to the transcripts of interviews they had done for a National Geo Graphic Channel documentary that was based entirely on my work for TRIPLE CROSS.
In fact, after Nat Geo Channel, through Towers Productions Inc. of Chicago, effectively contracted with me to narrate, write and appear as the principal editorial voice in TRIPLE CROSS (the documentary) they cut me out in June and replaced me with Cloonan. He even appeared on Fox News the weekend before the documentary's airing (August 28th) to promote the two hour special. Whose program was he on? Heartland, with John Kasich, the conservative ex-GOP congressman who was guest hosting on The O'Reilly Factor, on November 21st when they aired McCarthy's diatribe.
On that program Kasich, called me "a little bit loony" but was put in his place when I handed him a copy of TRIPLE CROSS and asked him to read it first. Now another News Corp. subsidiary -- The N.Y. Post -- weighs in on the side of hiding the truth behind the gross negligence and obstruction of justice by the two bin Laden "offices of origin" in the nine years Ali Mohamed ate their lunches on the road to 9.11.
All of this recalls Aaron Sorkin's brilliant retort by the Jack Nicholson character to Tom Cruise's character in A Few Good Men. While grilling Jack on the stand in the film, Cruise screams "I want the truth" and Nicholson snaps back: "You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls."
It's ironic. I was praiseworthy of Andrew C. McCarthy in parts of TRIPLE CROSS, principally for his well-placed criticism of former Deputy Attorney General (and 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick) after she issued the infamous "wall memo" which sought to separate FBI investigators probing past al Qaeda crimes with Foreign Counter Intelligence agents seeking to prevent future attacks.
It's clear from Andrew McCarthy's reaction to TRIPLE CROSS that he's hiding behind the wall of deception that prevented the U.S. public from realizing just how betrayed they really were by the FBI and SDNY in their utter failure to stop al Qaeda operatives like Ali Mohamed and keep this country safe. Maybe McCarthy, a former U.S. Marshal, will have the guts to step out from behind the safe confines of The New Corp. and face off with me in the Huffington Post.