Bin Laden Issue Station

Bin Laden Issue Station

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The Bin Laden Issue Station (1996–2005) was a unit of the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 dedicated to tracking Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

.

Soon after its creation the Station developed a new, deadlier vision of bin Laden's activities. In 1999 the CIA inaugurated a grand "Plan" against al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

, but struggled to find the resources to implement it. Nevertheless, by 9/11 the Agency achieved almost complete reporting on the militants in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 (excluding bin Laden's inner circle itself).

In 2000 a joint CIA-USAF project using "Predator" reconnaissance drones, and following a program drawn up by the Bin Laden Station, produced probable sightings of the Qaeda leader in Afghanistan. Resumption of flights in 2001 was delayed by arguments over a missile-armed version of the aircraft. Only on September 4, 2001 was the go-ahead given for weapons-capable drones. Also in 2001, CIA chief George Tenet
George Tenet
George John Tenet was the Director of Central Intelligence for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University....

 set up a Strategic Assessments Branch
Strategic Assessments Branch
The strategic assessments branch of the Counterterrorist Center of the United States Central Intelligence Agency was established in 2001 to plug a gap in strategic analysis of the terrorism threat, particularly that due to al-Qaeda....

, to remedy the deficiency of "big-picture" analysis on Islamist terrorism. The branch's head took up his job on September 10, 2001.

Conception, birth and growth


The idea was born from discussions within the CIA's senior management, and that of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center
Counterterrorist Center
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism Center was established in 1986. It is not to be confused with the National Counterterrorism Center, a separate entity.-Foundation and early years:...

 (CTC). David Cohen, head of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, and others, wanted to try out a "virtual station", modeled on the Agency's overseas stations, but based near Washington DC and dedicated to a particular issue. The unit "would fuse intelligence disciplines into one office—operations, analysis, signals intercepts, overhead photography and so on".

Cohen had trouble getting any Directorate of Operations officer to run the unit. He finally recruited Michael Scheuer
Michael Scheuer
Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies...

, an analyst then running the CTC's Islamic Extremist Branch; Scheuer "was especially knowledgeable about Afghanistan". Scheuer, who "had noticed a recent stream of reports about Bin Ladin and something called al Qaeda", suggested that the new unit "focus on this one individual". Cohen agreed.

The Station opened in January 1996, as a unit under the CTC. Scheuer set it up and headed it from that time until spring 1999. The Station was an "interdisciplinary" group, drawing on personnel from the CIA, FBI, NSA and elsewhere in the intelligence community. Formally known as the Bin Ladin Issue Station, it was codenamed Alec Station, as referred to by Able Danger
Able Danger
Able Danger was a classified military planning effort led by the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency...

 liaison Anthony Shaffer. By 1999 the unit's staff had nicknamed themselves the "Manson Family", "because they had acquired a reputation for crazed alarmism about the rising al Qaeda threat".

The Station originally had twelve professional staff members, including former FBI agent Daniel Coleman. This figure grew to 40–50 employees by September 11, 2001. (The CTC as a whole had about 200 and 390 employees at the same dates.)

CIA chief George Tenet
George Tenet
George John Tenet was the Director of Central Intelligence for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University....

 later described the Station's mission as "to track [bin Laden], collect intelligence on him, run operations against him, disrupt his finances, and warn policymakers about his activities and intentions". By early 1999 the unit had "succeeded in identifying assets and members of Bin Laden's organization ...".

New view of al-Qaeda, 1996–1998


Soon after its inception, the Station began to develop a new, deadlier vision of al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

. In spring 1996, in what Scheuer called "a stroke of luck", Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl walked into the US's Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

n embassy and established his credentials "as a former senior employee" of Bin Laden. Al-Fadl had lived in the US in the mid-1980s, and had been recruited to the Afghan mujaheddin through the al-Khifa
Al Kifah Refugee Center
The Al Kifah Refugee Center is a charity that was active in the United Statesand was based in the Faruq Mosque in Brooklyn.-Overview:Al Kifah Refugee Center had clandestine links to forces fighting in Afghanistan dating to the late 1980s, when the fighters enjoyed American support in their struggle...

 center at the Farouq mosque in Brooklyn. Al-Khifa was the interface of "Operation Cyclone
Operation Cyclone
Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency program to arm, train, and finance the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, 1979 to 1989...

, the American effort to support the mujaheddin", and the Pakistan-based Services Office of Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

, whose purpose was to raise recruits for the struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Al-Fadl had joined al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 in 1989, apparently in Afghanistan. Peter Bergen called him the third member of the organization (presumably after Azzam and bin Laden). But al-Fadl had since embezzled $110,000 from al-Qaeda, and now wanted to "defect".

Al-Fadl was persuaded to come to the United States by Jack Cloonan, an FBI special agent who had been "seconded" to the Bin Laden Issue Station. There, from late 1996, under the protection of Cloonan and his colleagues, al-Fadl "provided a major breakthrough on the creation, character, direction and intentions of al Qaeda". "Bin Laden, the CIA now learned, had planned multiple terrorist operations and aspired to more"—including the acquisition of weapons-grade uranium. Another "walk-in" source (since identified as L'Houssaine Kherchtou) "corroborated" al-Fadl's claims. "By the summer of 1998", Scheuer later summed up, "we had accumulated an extraordinary array of information on [al-Qaeda] and its intentions."

Unfortunately the "reams" of data that the Station had been "developing ... had not been pulled together and synthesized for the rest of the government". Policymakers knew there was a dangerous individual named Osama bin Laden whom they had been trying to capture and bring to trial. But they did not yet share the Bin Laden unit's consciousness of a structured worldwide organization called al-Qaeda, referring rather to bin Laden and his "associates" or "network". A 1997 CIA National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism only briefly mentioned bin Laden. The intelligence community did not in fact describe al-Qaeda until 1999.

Al Qaeda operated as an organization in more than sixty countries, the CIA's Counterterrorist Center calculated by late 1999 [a figure that was to help underpin the "War On Terror" two years later]. Its formal, sworn, hard-core membership might number in the hundreds. Thousands more joined allied militias such as the [Afghan] Taliban or the Chechen rebel groups or Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines or the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan. ...

First capture plan and US embassy attacks, 1997–98


In May 1996 bin Laden moved from Sudan to Afghanistan. Scheuer saw the move as a (further) "stroke of luck". Though the CIA had virtually abandoned Afghanistan after the fall of the Soviet puppet regime in 1991, case officers had re-established some contacts while tracking down Kasi, the Pakistani gunman who had murdered two CIA employees in 1993. "One of the contacts was a group associated with particular tribes among Afghanistan's ethnic Pashtun community." The team, dubbed "TRODPINT" by the CIA, was provisioned with arms, equipment and cash by the CTC, and set up residence around Kandahar. Kasi was captured in June 1997. CTC chief Jeff O'Connell then "approved a plan to transfer the Afghans agent teams from the [CIA's] Kasi cell to the bin Laden unit".

By autumn 1997 the Station had roughed out a plan for TRODPINT to capture bin Laden and hand him over for trial, either to the US or an Arab country. In early 1998 the Cabinet-level Principals Committee apparently gave their blessing, but the scheme was abandoned in the spring for fear of collateral fatalities during a capture attempt.

In August 1998 militants truck-bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. President Clinton ordered cruise-missile strikes on bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan. But there was no "follow-up" action to these strikes.

New leadership and the new Plan, 1999


In December 1998 CIA chief Tenet "declared war" on Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

. Early in 1999 Tenet "ordered the CTC to begin a 'baseline' review of the CIA's operational strategy against bin Laden". In the spring he "demanded 'a new, comprehensive plan of attack' against bin Laden and his allies".

As an evident part of the new strategy, Tenet removed Mike Scheuer from the leadership of the Bin Laden Station. (Later that year Scheuer resigned from the CIA.) Tenet appointed "Richard" (Rich, Richie), a "fast-track executive assistant" who "came directly from Tenet's leadership group", to have authority over the Station. "Tenet quickly followed this appointment with another: He named Cofer Black
Cofer Black
Joseph Cofer Black is an American counter-terrorism expert and consultant. He had a 28-year career in the Directorate of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency, culminating in his appointment as Director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center in June 1999...

 as director of the entire CTC."

The CTC produced a "comprehensive plan of attack" against bin Laden and "previewed the new strategy to senior CIA management by the end of July 1999. By mid-September, it had been briefed to CIA operational level personnel, and to [the] NSA [National Security Agency], the FBI, and other partners." The strategy "was called simply, 'the Plan'."


... [Cofer] Black and his new [sic] bin Laden unit wanted to "project" into Afghanistan, to "penetrate" bin Laden's sanctuaries. They described their plan as military officers might. They sought to surround Afghanistan with secure covert bases for CIA operations – as many bases as they could arrange. Then they would mount operations from each of the platforms, trying to move inside Afghanistan and as close to bin Laden as they could to recruit agents and to attempt capture operations. ... Black wanted recruitments, and he wanted to develop commando or paramilitary strike teams made up of officers and men who could "blend" into the region's Muslim populations.



[T]he CIA [also] considered the possibility of putting U.S. personnel on the ground in Afghanistan. The CIA had been discussing this possibility with Special Operations Command
Special Operations Command
Special Operations Command may refer to any of these military or police organizations:*Special Operations Command *Special Operations Command elite unit of Maldives Police*Special Operations Command...

 [SOCOM] and found enthusiasm on the working level but reluctance at higher levels. CIA saw a 95 percent chance of [SOCOM] forces capturing Bin Ladin if deployed – but less than a 5 percent chance of such a deployment. ...


Black also arranged for a CIA team, headed by Station chief Richard, to visit Northern-Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, to discuss operations against bin Laden. The mission was codenamed "JAWBREAKER-5", the fifth in a series of such missions since autumn 1997. The team went in late October 1999, "a hazardous journey in rickety helicopters that would be repeated several times in the future". They stayed for seven days. "The Bin Laden unit was satisfied that its reporting on Bin Ladin would now have a second source." Contemplated operations would be coordinated with the CIA's other prospective efforts against al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

.


Once Cofer Black had finalized his operational plan .... [Charles] Allen [the associate deputy director of central intelligence for collection] created a dedicated al-Qa'ida cell with officers from across the intelligence community. This cell met daily, brought focus to penetrating the Afghan sanctuary, and ensured that collection initiatives were synchronized with operational plans. Allen met with [Tenet] on a weekly basis to review initiatives under way. His efforts were enabling operations and pursuing longer-range, innovative initiatives around the world against al-Qa'ida. ...


It is not clear how this "Qaeda cell", which duplicated the functions of the Bin Laden unit, related to or overlapped the Station.

The CIA increasingly concentrated its diminished resources on counterterrorism, so that resources for this activity increased sharply, in contrast to the general trend. At least some of the Plan's more modest aspirations were translated into action. Intelligence collection efforts on bin Laden and al-Qaeda increased significantly from 1999. "By 9/11", said Tenet, "a map would show that these collection programs and human [reporting] networks were in place in such numbers as to nearly cover Afghanistan."

The core 9/11 hijackers emerge


Beginning in September 1999 the CTC picked up multiple signs that bin Laden had set in motion major terrorist attacks for the turn of the year. The CIA set in motion the "largest collection and disruption activity in the history of mankind" (as Cofer Black
Cofer Black
Joseph Cofer Black is an American counter-terrorism expert and consultant. He had a 28-year career in the Directorate of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency, culminating in his appointment as Director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center in June 1999...

 later put it). The CTC focused in particular on three groups of Qaeda personnel: those known to have been involved in terrorist attacks; and senior personnel both outside and inside Afghanistan—e.g. "operational planner Abu Zubaydah" and "Bin Ladin deputy Muhammad Atef".

Amid this activity, in November–December 1999 Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta was one of the masterminds and the ringleader of the September 11 attacks who served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, crashing the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks.Born in 1968...

, Marwan al-Shehhi
Marwan al-Shehhi
Marwan Yousef Mohamed Rashid Lekrab al-Shehhi was the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, crashing the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the September 11 attacks....

, Ziad Jarrah
Ziad Jarrah
Ziad Samir Jarrah was one of the masterminds of the September 11 attacks who served as the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, crashing the plane into a field in a rural area near Shanksville—after a passenger uprising—as part of the coordinated attacks.After a wealthy and secular...

 and Nawaf al-Hazmi
Nawaf al-Hazmi
Nawaf Muhammed Salim al-Hazmi was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon as part of the September 11 attacks....

 visited Afghanistan, where they were selected for the "planes operation" that was to become known as 9/11. Al-Hazmi undertook guerrilla training at Qaeda's Mes Aynak
Mes Aynak
Mes Aynak is located 30 km southeast of Kabul, in a barren region of Logar Province; that is still considered a major transit route for insurgents coming from Pakistan. The mine could be a major boost for the Afghan economy...

 camp (along with two Yemenis who were unable to get US entry visas). The camp was located in an abandoned Russian copper mine near Kabul, and was for a time in 1999 the only such training camp in operation. Atta, al-Shehhi and Jarrah met Muhammad Atef and bin Laden in Kandahar, and were instructed to go back to Germany to undertake pilot training.

In late 1999 the National Security Agency
National Security Agency
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S...

 (NSA), following up information from the FBI's investigation of the 1998 US embassy attacks, picked up traces of "an operational cadre", consisting of Nawaf al-Hazmi, his companion Khalid al-Mihdhar
Khalid al-Mihdhar
Khalid Muhammad Abdallah al-Mihdhar was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which was flown into the Pentagon as part of the September 11 attacks....

 and Nawaf's younger brother Salem, who were planning to go to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

, Malaysia, in January 2000. Seeing a connection with the attacks, a CTC officer sought permission to surveil the men.

At about this time the SOCOM
SOCOM
SOCOM is an acronym which refers to United States Special Operations Command or one of these related topics:* Firearms for USSOCOM's Offensive Sidearm Weapon System trials:** Heckler & Koch Mark 23 Mod 0** Colt OHWS* Springfield Armory, Inc...

-DIA
Dia
Dia is free and open source general-purpose diagramming software, developed originally by Alexander Larsson. Dia uses a controlled single document interface similar to GIMP and Sodipodi.- Features :...

 operation Able Danger
Able Danger
Able Danger was a classified military planning effort led by the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency...

 also identified a potential Qaeda unit, consisting of the future leading 9/11 hijackers Atta, al-Shehhi, al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. It termed them the "Brooklyn cell", because of some associations with the New York district. Evidently at least some of the men were physically and legally present in the United States, since there was an ensuing legal tussle over the "right" of "quasi-citizens" not to be spied on.
As for the CIA. The Agency erratically tracked al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar as they traveled to and attended the al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 summit in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

 in early January 2000. "The Counterterrorist Center had briefed the CIA leadership on the gathering in Kuala Lumpur ... The head of the Bin Ladin unit [Richard] kept providing updates", unaware at first that the information was out-of-date.

Inside the station, there were two FBI agents named Mark Rossini and Doug Miller. When the station learned that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar had a multiple-entry Visa to the United States, the agents attempted to alert FBI headquarters. CIA officials in management positions over the FBI agents prevented this information from being transmitted to FBI headquarters.

By March 2000 it was learned that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar had departed for (or returned to) Los Angeles. The men were not registered with the State Department's TIPOFF list, nor was the FBI told.

There are also allegations that the CIA surveiled Mohamed Atta in Germany from the time he returned there in January/February 2000, until he left for the US in June 2000.

Predator drone, 2000–2001


In spring 2000, officers from the Bin Laden Station joined others in pressing for "Afghan Eyes", the Predator reconnaissance drone program for locating bin Laden in Afghanistan. In the summer, "The bin Laden unit drew up maps and plans for fifteen Predator flights, each lasting just under twenty-four hours." The flights were scheduled to begin in September. In autumn 2000, officers from the Station were present at Predator flight control in the CIA's Langley headquarters, alongside other officers from the CTC, and US Air Force drone pilots. Several possible sightings of bin Laden were obtained as drones flew over his Tarnak-Farms residence near Kandahar. Late in the year, the program was suspended because of bad weather.

Resumption of flights in 2001 was delayed by arguments over an armed Predator. A drone equipped with adapted "Hellfire" anti-tank missiles could be used to try to kill bin Laden and other Qaeda leaders. Cofer Black
Cofer Black
Joseph Cofer Black is an American counter-terrorism expert and consultant. He had a 28-year career in the Directorate of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency, culminating in his appointment as Director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center in June 1999...

 and the bin Laden unit were among the advocates. But there were both legal and technical issues. In the summer the CIA "conducted classified war games at Langley ... to see how its chain of command might responsibly oversee a flying robot that could shoot missiles at suspected terrorists"; a series of live-fire tests in the Nevada desert (involving a mockup of bin Laden's Tarnak residence) produced mixed results.

Tenet advised cautiously on the matter at a meeting of the Cabinet-level Principals Committee on September 4, 2001. If the Cabinet wanted to empower the CIA to field a lethal drone, Tenet said, "they should do so with their eyes wide open, fully aware of the potential fallout if there were a controversial or mistaken strike". National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 concluded that the armed Predator was required, but evidently not ready. It was agreed to recommend to the CIA to resume reconnaissance flights. The "previously reluctant" Tenet then ordered the Agency to do so. The CIA was now "authorized to deploy the system with weapons-capable aircraft, but for reconnaissance missions only", since the host nation (presumably Uzbekistan) "had not agreed to allow flights by weapons-carrying aircraft".


Subsequent to 9/11, approval was quickly granted to ship the missiles, and the Predator aircraft and missiles reached their overseas location on September 16, 2001. The first mission was flown over Kabul and [Kandahar] on September 18 without carrying weapons. Subsequent host nation approval was granted on October 7 and the first armed mission was flown on the same day.

Strategic branch, 2001


Despite increases in staff, "even into 2001 the Bin Ladin unit knew it needed more people—particularly experienced Headquarters desk officers and targeters—to meet the HUMINT [human-intelligence] challenge. In [an] early Spring 2001 briefing to the DCI (George Tenet
George Tenet
George John Tenet was the Director of Central Intelligence for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University....

), CTC requested hiring a small group of contractors not involved in day-to-day crises to digest vast quantities of information and develop targeting strategies. The briefing emphasized that the unit needed people, not money."

The briefing was apparently in response to an initiative from Tenet, who in late 2000 had "recognized the deficiency of strategic analysis against al Qaeda. To tackle this problem within the CTC he appointed a senior manager, who briefed him in March 2001 on 'creating a strategic assessment capability.'"

A strategic analyst on 9/11


"On the morning of September 11, 2001, [John] Fulton and his team at the CIA were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building." So said an advance-publicity pamphlet for a security conference held in 2002.

The Strategic Assessments Branch
Strategic Assessments Branch
The strategic assessments branch of the Counterterrorist Center of the United States Central Intelligence Agency was established in 2001 to plug a gap in strategic analysis of the terrorism threat, particularly that due to al-Qaeda....

 was "created" in July 2001. "The decision to add about ten analysts to this effort was seen as a major bureaucratic victory, but the CTC labored to find them. The new chief of this branch reported for duty on September 10, 2001."

After 9/11


Shortly after 9/11, Michael Scheuer
Michael Scheuer
Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA intelligence officer, American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst. He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies...

 came back to the Station as special adviser. He stayed until 2004.

After the September 11 attacks, staff numbers at the Station were expanded into the hundreds. Scheuer claimed the expansion was a "shell game" played with temporary (and inexperienced) staff, and that the core personnel "remained at under 30, the size it was when Scheuer left office in 1999". (As we have seen, professional staff numbers grew to 40 to 50 by the eve of 9/11.)

After 9/11, "Hendrik V.", and later "Marty M.", were chiefs of "Alec Station's Bin Ladin Unit" (says George Tenet
George Tenet
George John Tenet was the Director of Central Intelligence for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University....

).

The Bin Laden Station was disbanded in late 2005.

Further reading

  • Steve Coll
    Steve Coll
    Steve Coll is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and writer. Coll is currently president and CEO of the New America Foundation. Prior to assuming that post on September 17, 2007, Coll was a staff writer for The New Yorker, and served as managing editor of The Washington Post from 1998 to...

    , Ghost Wars
    Ghost Wars
    Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, written by Steve Coll, published in 2004 by Penguin Press, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction....

    : The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
    , Penguin, 2005. (This is an updated version of the original, Penguin, 2004.)
  • 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, July 2004
  • A Review of the FBI's Handling of Intelligence Information Related to the September 11 Attacks: Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Special Report, November 2004, Released Publicly June 2006
  • Jack Cloonan interview, PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

    , July 13, 2005
  • Michael Scheuer interview, PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

    , July 21, 2005
  • Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold' Washington Post September 10, 2006
  • After a Decade at War With West, Al-Qaeda Still Impervious to Spies Washington Post March 20, 2008
  • How Osama bin Laden Slipped from our Grasp: The Definitive Account by Peter Bergen
    Peter Bergen
    Peter Bergen is a print and television journalist, author, and CNN's national security analyst. Bergen produced the first television interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1997. The interview, which aired on CNN, marked the first time that bin Laden declared war against the United States to a Western...

    , The New Republic
    The New Republic
    The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

    , December 22, 2009