Recently-released court documents from the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui show clear evidence of the FBI attempt to cover-up the whereabouts and activities of lead 9.11 hijacker Mohamed Atta in Florida between January and May of 2001, confirming reports which have appeared exclusively in the MadCowMorningNews.
Released over government objection through the efforts of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the documents illustrate the pattern of omission and selective editing through which the Bureau has deflected attention from the terrorist's conspiracy's base of operations in Venice FL.
Four months after the FBI's official chronology states Mohamed Atta left Florida's Gulf Coast for the Miami area, Atta was still using a Venice-area cell phone.
And these four months worth of Atta's phone calls are not listed or included in the released cell phone records.
The documents also give the lie to continuing attempts by the terrorists’ hometown paper, the New York Times-owned Sarasota Herald-Tribune, to salvage its lackluster record in covering the story of the dozens of suspected terrorists living cheek-by-jowl in its midst by invalidating the testimony of a key witness, uncritically presenting her recantation as if witnesses being pressured to change their stories were not a daily fact of life.
It's a brief piece, but that's not the point. A search for "Amanda Keller" in the Lexis-Nexis database today yields only these two rebuttal stories from the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
The paper reports that Amanda Keller now says she never lived with Mohamed Atta. Despite numerous published reports (including their own), the corroborated testimony of other eyewitnesses to the same events, as well testimony by these same witnesses of being victims of a systematic campaign of intimidation by the FBI…that, apparently, is supposed to be that.
“It was ‘my bad’ for lying,” Mohamed Atta’s erstwhile girlfriend Amanda Keller supposedly told a Herald-Tribune reporter. “I really didn’t think about it until after I did it.”
Heather does 9/11
Events, however, continue to prove Keller's earlier testimony correct and right on the money. The most recent was the release over the weekend of the soundless suicide video of a bearded Mohamed Atta and Siad Al Jarrah at a camp in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden.
“Mohamed Atta had a beard when I met him,” said Atta’s erstwhile girlfriend Amanda Keller over four years ago.
Despite the denial of Atta's father, who has previously proven to be an inveterate liar (and who was in Florida less than two weeks before the attack) that was Mohamed Atta in the suicide video.
And he was wearing a beard. Advantage Keller.
By neglecting to mention the numerous witnesses who insist– for no visible reason other than it happens to be the truth--that Mohamed Atta and Amanda Keller lived together for several months at the Sandpiper Apartments across the street from the Venice Airport, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune made their second attempt to refute it on the 5th anniversary of the attack.
Providing yet another good reason why people are turning away from the mainstream press in droves, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune also neglects to mention that it was the Sarasota Herald-Tribune itself, along with several other newspapers, which first reported Atta lived with Keller at the Sandpiper.
The article now attributes the report to “conspiracy theorists."
No need to wonder just who they meant by that.
Unnamed FBI Official: "Nothing to see here. Move along."
The obvious question would be: What possible motive would anyone have for lying about being a former girlfriend of the most reviled man on the planet?
The question must not have occurred to either Tribune reporter Heather Allen or editor David Hackett. The article offers no explanation for why Keller supposedly lied, then left town to avoid publicity.
Nor does it offer the reason numerous other eyewitnesses to the liaison also presumably lied, a list that includes two apartment managers, the woman who owned the apartment building, several next-door neighbors, and even the postman. All remain unmentioned.
Nor does the story quote the original reporter on the Sarasota Herald Tribune story, Earle Kimel, although this omission is slightly less surprising in an article which neglects to inform its readers that it was one of the newspapers which originally reported the story it is now taking pains to refute.
Who does get quoted? You'll never guess…
An unnamed federal official. What a surprise.
The story relies solely and completely on anonymous sources, just as the paper’s first story had, quoting statements from unnamed persons variously labeled “investigators” and “authorities.”
The government had checked Atta’s phone records, the story stated, and found Atta and Keller had never called each other.
An unnamed FBI agent states, “There’s nothing there to corroborate the relationship between the two.”
From the people who brought you Judith Miller & Jayson Blair
When the unnamed agent lied, he or she may have temporarily forgotten about the treasure trove of government documents about the hijackers released after the recently-concluded Moussaoui trial.
The records include Mohamed Atta’s phone records.
The FBI’s official chronology states that shortly after Christmas in the year 2000 Atta and bodyguard Marwan Al-Shehhi left Venice Florida for the jazzier precincts of the Miami area.
The MadCowMorningNews has been reporting the direct testimony of numerous credible witnesses–real people with real names– who contradict the FBI, including everyone from the Sheriff of nearby Charlotte County to Mohamed Atta’s erstwhile American girlfriend, all of whom said Atta was in the Venice area during the first five months of 2001.
If Amanda Keller’s phone number didn’t appear in Atta's newly-released phone records, then perhaps–choke!–the FBI is right. Keller knew Atta in the Spring of 2001: March, April, and into May.
Those would be the phone records to look at. We held our breath, and looked them up.
Atta's Venice phone service ended when?
We began by leafing through the records for Atta’s phone at the house in nearby Nokomis which he and Marwan shared while both attended Huffman Aviation. If Atta really did leave Venice for Miami at the end of 2000, the way the FBI says he did, this would be the logical point for his service to be cutoff.
Instead, Atta's released phone records clearly expose an FBI cover-up.
Mohamed Atta got this Verizon cell phone from Wassam Hammoud, a Lebanese man who has ties to the cell of convicted terrorists in Dearborn Michigan, and who was himself recently convicted of soliciting the beheading of a federal agent.
It lists all his calls, or appears to, between July of 2000, when the FBI says he arrived in Venice, and January 20th of 2001, several weeks after they say he left.
Yet a second document, the return of subpoena document from the phone company, Verizon, clearly states that Mohamed Atta’s Nokomis cell phone was in service until May 21st, four full months longer than the period covered by the phone bills presented by the FBI as complete.
Four months worth of Atta's phone calls are not listed or included in the released cell phone records. Why aren’t the full phone records included in the Moussaoui trial documents? Why is the FBI holding them back?
Only a 'conspiracy theorist' would question the FBI
Four months after the FBI's official chronology states Mohamed Atta left Florida's Gulf Coast for the Miami area, Atta was still using a Venice-area cell phone.
Sarasota private investigator Bill Warner was incredulous at the news.
"Atta's Verizon cell phone, a PrePay account, was active from 7/15/2000 until 5/12/2001 and was listed at the 516 Laurel Rd Nokomis address," he began.
"But you wouldn't continue to use a cell phone with a Sarasota/Venice area code if you had already moved to Ft Lauderdale or Miami, because all of your calls would then incur roaming charges, which were exorbitantly expensive in 2000 and 2001."
"Mohamed Atta was depicted as being very frugal with his money. He would have never continued to pay huge roaming and long distance charges if he had actually moved out of the Sarasota/Venice area by 2001,the way the FBI says he did," Warner said.
"So he must have still been here…in Sarasota and Venice, during this time period."
Amanda and Atta didn’t meet until near the end of February. He would have been calling her from then until two and a half-months later.
Atta’s phone records for this time period are missing.
What does this say about the nameless FBI agent asserting Amanda Keller didn’t live with Mohamed Atta… because there weren’t any phone calls to her on his records? Was this the reason the FBI agent felt comfortable lying?
But the Moussaoui records yield one further document which conclusively proves the FBI is lying, a fax sent by Atta to a flight school in Miami.
The fax is dated March 11, 2001. It was sent from a Postal Express store barely a mile from the house Atta and Marwan rented while attending Huffman Aviation at the Venice Airport, the home they were supposed to have left for good three months earlier.
Encountering resistance at the Cheetah
In a meeting at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Venice bureau, which had ironically been our first stop in our search for Amanda four years ago, to check in with reporter Earle Kimel, who first broke the story, we had already pointed out that there was a big discrepancy in the phone records.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Heather Allen may just live in a blissful world where statements by FBI agents can be accepted at face value. A willing suspension of disbelief can be a wonderful thing to have… if you're on your way to Disney World.
But its not very becoming in a reporter. Not a real one, anyway.
“Atta may have been in Venice as recently as April,” Kimel had reported. “Charles Grapentine, the manager of Sandpiper Apartments on Airport Avenue in Venice, said he remembers seeing Atta at the complex for about three weeks in April. He said Atta was living in the apartment of Amanda Keller.”
We asked him if he had any clue about what had happened to her. Was she just a reluctant witness? Or had she been frightened into silence?
Kimel knew a bit about recalcitrant witnesses: he’d found some strippers who had danced for Atta in a Sarasota strip joint, the Cheetah, but had then encountered resistance from the establishment's management when he began to ask them a few questions…
They threw him out of the club.
Kimel’s next story about Atta and Amanda included a brief phone interview with her. She spoke to him from her mother’s house in the northern Florida town of Lady Lake. “She said authorities told her not to say anything at all about Atta,” reported Kimel.
The story then quoted Amanda Keller's last eleven words, before she lapsed into a silence which only ended after we found her more than a year later:
“I can’t really discuss anything. I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble.”
Thick wad of hundreds guarantees 'a lot of visitors'
Atta’s stay at the Sandpiper was only a small part of the initial local news coverage. Accounts in three newspapers stated basically the same thing…
Landlord Charles Grapentine was quoted saying Atta had been living in his apartment building in April, with Amanda Keller, in apartment 26 on the second floor. A group of Six Middle Eastern men with whom Atta was close, including his bodyguard Marwan Al-Shehhi, rented an apartment downstairs. Manager Paula Grapentine said Atta had “a lot of visitors.”
Maybe that had something to do with why the story quickly became so politically sensitive. "A lot of visitors" opens the door to questions the FBI didn't want asked.
Mohamed Atta stuck out in a way that made him hard to forget, even before the 9/11 attack, said Paula Grapentine. “He was very unfriendly; he wouldn’t talk to women.”
Atta stopped by the Grapentine’s apartment one time to discuss something regarding the complex, Paula stated. “He came to talk about something and said, ‘I don’t talk to women and you’re supposed to look down when you talk to me,’” Grapentine recalled.
“Atta always carried a fanny pack around his waist,” Charley Grapentine said. “I remember Amanda once telling him that she needed some new clothes, and he reached in and peeled off a few hundreds from a thick roll of cash he had stuffed inside the fanny pack.”
“He treated women like they were beneath him.”
Maytag repairmen as "conspiracy theorists"
Her husband Charlie Grapentine is a grizzled former marine in his early 60’s. He remembers when Amanda performed her informal eviction. Later we learned from Amanda herself that she had sought his counsel on what to do about the unworkable arrangement. Amanda’s name was on the lease.
Grapentine told her to kick him out.
Charlie Grapentine’s recollections of Mohamed Atta were not received warmly by the FBI. And on the subject of talking to reporters, their response was positively frosty.
“They called me a liar, and told me to keep my mouth shut,” the ex-marine told us grimly. "Nobody likes to hear that; that they didn’t see something they know they saw."
At the apartment next door to Amanda and Atta’s apartment on the second floor lived a pleasant-looking 50 year-old housewife. Stephanie Frederickson is nobody’s idea of a ‘conspiracy theorist.’ She cares during the day for the baby of a friend needing help.
Her husband is a Maytag repairman. It doesn’t get any more normal than that.
She had not sought publicity, nor had she spoken to the press. And a good thing too… She believes she would have been in trouble if she had.
Stephanie confirmed the Grapentine’s account, then offered new details. While Atta and Amanda lived next-door, signs of trouble in their relationship were hard to miss, Frederickson said. He had been no picnic as a neighbor.
Atta’s cheesy taste for infidel flesh is already well-known. But when it came to his own girlfriend, he balked at sharing glimpses of it with others. Since his girlfriend had recently become a ‘lingerie model,’ this created difficulties.
“That’s when she started dressing really slutty, and dyeing her hair pink,” Frederickson said. “She wasn’t going to let herself be controlled by him.”
The Florsheim Bureau of Intimidation
What Stephanie really wanted to talk about, however–what both she and Charlie Grapentine were fairly bursting to talk about–was how she had been harassed and intimidated by agents of the FBI.
"At first, right after the attack, they told me I must have been mistaken in my identification," she stated. "Or they would insinuate that I was lying. Finally they stopped trying to get me to change my story, and just stopped by once a week to make sure I hadn’t been talking to anyone.”
For at least six months after the 9/11 attack, Frederickson says, she received weekly visits from agents from the FBI’s Sarasota office. "The question they asked was always the same," she says.
"You aren’t saying anything to anybody, are you?"
She shrugs. “Who was I going to tell? Most everyone around here already knew."
A year after the 9/11 attack, both the Frederickson's and Grapentine's were angry at having their personal integrity attacked by FBI agents, who seemed much less concerned with catching terrorists than they were in squelching their story.
A competent and intelligent woman, Stephanie Frederickson knows what she saw. She resented the FBI agents heavy-handed and repeated assertions to the contrary. And she wanted us to know about it.
We think they are both heroes. In the middle of a dark time, they showed us that who we are hasn't changed…
Real Americans won’t be silenced.
Amanda Keller complained of FBI intimidation
When we finally found Amanda Keller, one of the first things she said was how distressed she had been when she learned that her former landlord had talked to the press. “When I saw Charlie talking in the newspaper I knew they were going to jump all over him," she said. "I thought, ‘Charlie, no. Can’t you just wait?’”
She said she’d suffered the same bullying harassment from the FBI that other witnesses at the Sandpiper Apartments had been forced to endure.
Even after she left Venice, FBI agents called her every other day for months after the attack. That wasn't all, either…
“There was a police car constantly watching the house,” she told us. “When we burned some leaves in a burn barrel, a police officer came over and told us we weren’t allowed to burn anything because we were on some FBI list, and they were afraid we might be burning documents or something.”
This seems like pretty serious surveillance for a girl who had lived with some other Mohamed. We asked her, in our first meeting: Was this why she recanted her original statement?
“Because of the intimidation by the FBI,” she replied. “They told me not to talk to anybody, to keep my mouth shut. The newspaper quote was accurate: ‘I can’t say anything because I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble.’”
If Amanda Keller hadn't been living with Mohamed Atta, why had the FBI engaged in a regular and systematic pattern of intimidation of eyewitnesses in Venice, Florida?
Junior G-Men of the Sarasota Herald Tribune
A reporter made the rounds of eyewitnesses, making a persistent attempt to spike the story. It won him the enmity of Sandpiper residents. Stephanie Frederickson said he accused her of making it up. He urged her to stop talking about it.
He said he worked for the New York Times. He didn't.
His name was Chris Grier, and he worked at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, until later being fired, for snooping through other reporter's computers, we were told… for spying.
Amanda received a visit from Grier as well.
“A N.Y. Times reporter named Chris-young, tall, kind of heavy, dark hair and a dark goatee-came to my house. And he was mad because I wouldn’t talk to him. But I was still reeling from Garret dying, and this dude would NOT leave me alone. I stood outside arguing with him forever, and he was trying to trip me up, get me to say something, and I said, 'I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to do,'” she recalls.
It was Grier who authored the Herald-Tribune's first attempt to discredit the story. He invented the "Second Mohamed." His story was headlined:
"Fifth pilot trainee vanishes; "Mohammed" slept on her couch, Venice woman says."
The "Fifth Pilot" was an ‘Unknown Terrorist.’ He was The Man Who Was Not There. The only record of his existence consisted of his stay with Amanda. There was never a follow-up story about him.
There was never a “Fifth Pilot Identified” headline.
Even his name remained a mystery. He was Mohamed No Last Name. In in-depth news accounts about the Hamburg cadre’s key members, from that day until this, he has never again been mentioned…not even once.
A year later we received several emails from a man claiming to be him. He enclosed two pictures of someone he said was himself. He looked nothing like Atta. He didn't glower, and even if he had, he was well over six feet tall.
A free press was supposed to guard the people's right to know
The fact that this transparent ruse–this weak tea–was successful in keeping other newspapers from going after the story speaks volumes about the sorry state of America's supposed "free press."
The "Mighty Wurlitzer," as the CIA's disinformation machine has been called, grinds on. The story comes around again.
It's a lot like Peter Jennings ridiculous two-hour special made in the last year of his life, forever disgracing his memory. It attempted, of course, to prove Oswald acted alone, but never bothered to explain why, if that were the case, dozens of horrified onlookers and police officers can be seen in the Zapruder tape responding to the shooting.. by charging the grassy knoll.
Jennings bought himself a ticket to ride alongside Dan Rather, the only reporter in Dealey Plaza when JFK was shot.
Rather, of course, didn't see a thing. And somehow, in all the years he hosted the CBS Evening News, his discomfort came through.
Shakespeare was right. Murder will out.
Today the newspaper that used to be “America’s paper of record” is a cowed publication. The paper’s coverage of the Bush administration has been weak and frightened.
They once published the Pentagon Papers. Now they shill for the FBI.
Their business is falling apart. The Web has gnawed away at the Times’ ad revenue, and as the cost of newsprint soars, the newspaper itself is literally shrinking: Next year, the Times will be 1.5 inches narrower, with less space for news.
Since about the time reporter Jayson Blair admitted faking news stories, the company’s shares have lost half their value. Bush Administration shill and Scooter Libby intimate Judith Miller may have accelerated the process.
The Internet is killing their bottom line. It can’t come too soon.
NEXT: THE MADCOWMORNINGNEWS' OCTOBER SURPRISE.