It is a Florida story if ever there was one. Recently broken by Dan Christensen’s BrowardBulldog.org in The Miami Herald, it deals with a wealthy Saudi Arabian family who left Sarasota in a hurry just before 9/11, after (as the story explains) visits by some of the suicide terrorists since identified in that event. It involves the FBI’s denial that the information was relevant to that great crime, and more recently an investigation, followed now by a lawsuit, filed by former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, demanding to know the details of what appears to be a shocking cover-up. On top of that, crucial legal decisions are now before U.S. District Judge William Zloch of Fort Lauderdale.
Some background. Dan Christensen is a highly respected journalist who lost his job during the cutbacks at The Miami Herald. “Rather than flip hamburgers,” Christensen says, he decided in 2009 to launch BrowardBulldog.org, an independent investigative organization. He has been funded largely by contributions. Michael Connelly, ex-Sun-Sentinel writer turned best-selling crime story author, has been among the most generous.
Broward Bulldog has done what it promised, and a number of its stories have been picked up by newspapers. But none seems as potentially powerful as this one. Christensen says the original tip came from Anthony Summers, an investigative reporter based in Ireland who has written respected works on the Kennedy assassination and on 9/11. Summers was credited as co-author of Broward Bulldog’s work.
“Tony told me he had gotten this tip and asked if I wanted to work on it,” Christensen says. “I said sure.”
Christensen first broke the story in 2011, but the impact became far greater with the recent revelation that the FBI did not reveal documents relating to contacts between the 9/11 bombers and the Sarasota Saudis. This is where Graham comes in. As co-chair of the 9/11 commission, he and no one on his commission were told by the FBI that it had information on the Sarasota connection. Graham knew nothing of this stunning information until informed by Christensen and Summers. But after Broward Bulldog sued the FBI, supported by Graham’s affidavit, the FBI released 31 pages of documents related to a matter of which they initially said they had no information.
Says Christensen: “The FBI told me to my face there was nothing to this. But it is crystal clear there is more to it. All of a sudden in March, they discover 31 pages that contradict what they had been saying publicly.” Former Sen. Graham thinks there is a lot more, and with his background in Washington, he deserves an opinion. In the lawsuit he said he suspects such a matter might have thousands of pages of information.
Defying someone such as Bob Graham is not quite the same as stonewalling a cutie working the NFL sideline. Graham served 10 years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and was chairman when 9/11 occurred. His family is also related to the ownership of the powerful The Washington Post. He is hardly someone to mess around with.
The question is why would the FBI conceal something of such importance? The suspicion, at least here, is that it suggests involvement by very important people in Saudi Arabia, a nation that is allegedly our best friend in the Arab world. It also suggests that if this concealment is as blatant as it appears to be, it must have been known on a level higher than the FBI. Whatever the reasons, the FBI has asked Judge Zloch to quash this suit on the grounds of national security.
Christensen notes an eerie comparison to another horrific event – the JFK assassination. He knew Gaeton Fonzi shortly after Fonzi published the first credible evidence linking the “lone nut” Lee Harvey Oswald to a high-ranking CIA agent. That was more than 40 years ago. And today, drop by declassified drop, it is clear that both the CIA and FBI concealed what they really knew about Oswald, and almost every other crucial aspect of the murder of a president.
Fonzi’s work, although it began in Philadelphia, largely took place in South Florida, where he explored connections between anti-Castro groups and the CIA – eventually leading him to a connection with Oswald. For 40 years the CIA denied having anything of importance in its files on Oswald. Then, Jefferson Morley, at the time working for The Washington Post, found evidence that Oswald was known to the CIA well before the murder in Dallas, and efforts to conceal any connections to our intelligence apparatus went far up the agency’s ladder.
Another similarity is the lack of mainstream press attention to an important story. Although it broke last week, almost no major newspaper has picked up the story. That’s hard to believe, considering it broke in The Miami Herald and involved someone as prominent as Bob Graham.
In the case of Christensen’s work, it has only been 12 years since that awful day in New York. Either investigative reporters are getting better, or the cover-up artists less adept.
We expect more on this. Stay tuned, or for faster transmission, log onto BrowardBulldog.org.