Okay, I noticed the transcripts are now available for the hearing that moved me to make this post.
The download page for this hearing is here
The particular day I refered to was in pdf form is
Those persons involved that I was refering too are the following. The person being questioned was Mr. Richard A. Clarke Former National Coordinator
for Counterterrorism, National Security Council. The questions were made by both Timothy J.
and Slade Gorton
The pages in question begin at page 140 to 143.
Here is a past of that section.
: We will certainly be looking to people in future
hearings for their recommendations in a host of different areas.
So I hope that you might think through this area a little bit
more and be available to us.
Mr. Clarke, let me ask you some difficult questions for you
to get at the complexity of our relationship with the Saudis. On
the one hand, I think it's fairly -- there's a great deal of
unanimity that the Saudis were not doing everything they could
before 9/11 to help us in a host of different areas. Fifteen of
the 19 hijackers came from there. We had trouble tracking some of
the financing for terrorist operations, that we still have too
many of the madrassas and the teachings of hatred of Christians
and Jews and others coming out of some of these madrassas. We
need to broaden and deepen this relationship. I will ask you a
part A and a part B. Part A is where do we go in this difficult
relationship? And part B is, to further look at that difficulty
here, you made a decision after 9/11. And I'd like to ask you
more about this -- to allow a plane of Saudis to fly out of the
country. And when most other planes were grounded, this plane
flew from the United States back to Saudi Arabia. I'd like to
know why you made that decision, who was on this plane, and if
the FBI ever had the opportunity to interview those people.
: You're absolutely right that the Saudi Arabian
government did not cooperate with us significantly in the fight
against terrorism prior to 9/11. Indeed, it didn't really
cooperate until after bombs blew up in Riyadh.
Now, as to this controversy about the Saudi evacuation
aircraft, let me -- let me tell you everything I know, which is
that some -- in the days following 9/11, whether it was on 9/12
or 9/15 I can't tell you, we were in a constant crisis management
meeting that had started the morning of 9/11 and ran for days on
end. We were making lots of decisions, but we were coordinating
them with all the agencies through the video teleconference
procedure. Someone -- and I wish I could tell you who, but I
don't know who -- someone brought to that group a proposal that
we authorize a request from the Saudi embassy. The Saudi embassy
had apparently said that they feared for the lives of Saudi
citizens, because they thought there would be retribution against
Saudis in the United States as it became obvious to Americans
that this attack was essentially done by Saudis, and that there
were even Saudi citizens in the United States who were part of
the bin Ladin family, which is a very large family -- very large
The Saudi embassy, therefore, asked for these people to be
evacuated; the same sort of thing that we do all the time in
similar crises, evacuating Americans.
The request came to me and I refused to approve it. I
suggested that it be routed to the FBI and that the FBI look at
the names of the individuals who were going to be on the
passenger manifest and that they approve it or not. I spoke with
the at that time the number-two person in the FBI, Dale Watson,
and asked him to deal with this issue. The FBI then approved --
after some period of time, and I can't tell you how long --
approved the flight.
Now, what degree of review the FBI did of those names, I
cannot tell you. How many people there are on the plane, I cannot
tell you. But I have asked since, were there any individuals on
that flight that in retrospect the FBI wishes they could have
interviewed in this country, and the answer I've been given is
no, that there was no one who left on that flight who the FBI now
wants to interview.
: Despite the fact that we don't know if Dale
Watson interviewed them in the first place.
: I don't think they were ever interviewed in this
: So they were not interviewed here. We have all
their names. We don't know if there has been any follow-up to
interview those people that were here and flown out of the
: The last time I asked that question, I was
informed the FBI still had no desire to interview any of these
: Would you have a desire to interview some of
these people that --
: I don't know who they are.
: We don't know who they are.
: I don't know who they are. The FBI knew who they
were, because they --
: Given your confidence and your statements on the
FBI, what's your level of comfort with this?
: Well, I will tell you in particular about the
ones that get the most attention here in the press, and they are
members of the bin Ladin family. I was aware for some time that
there were members of the bin Ladin family living in the United
States. And, let's see, in open session I can say that I was very
well aware of the members of the bin Ladin family and what they
were doing in the United States, and the FBI was extraordinarily
well aware of what they were doing in the United States. And I
was informed by the FBI that none of the members of the bin Ladin
family, this large clan, were doing anything in this country that
was illegal or that raised their suspicions. And I believe the
FBI had very good information and good sources of information
about what the members of the bin Ladin family were doing.
: I've been very impressed with your memory,
sitting through all these interviews that the 9/11 Commission has
conducted with you. I press you again to try to recall how this
request originated, who might have passed this on to you at the
White House Situation Room, or who might have originated that
request for the United States government to fly out -- how many
people on this plane?
: I don't know.
: We don't know how many people were on a plane
that flew out of this country. Who gave the final approval, then,
to say "Yes, you're clear to go, it's all right with the United
States government to go to Saudi Arabia"?
: I believe after the FBI came back and said it was
all right with them, we ran it through the decision process for
all of these decisions that we were making in those hours, which
was the Interagency Crisis Management Group on the video
I was making -- or coordinating a lot of decisions on 9/11 in
the days immediately after. And I would love to be able to tell
you who did it, who brought this proposal to me, but I don't
know. The two -- since you press me, the two possibilities that
are most likely are either the Department of State of the White
House Chief of Staff's Office. But I don't know.
: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
: Senator Gorton?
: One more question on that subject. When the
approvals were finally made, and when the flight left, was the
flight embargo still in effect or were we flying -- or was that
over? We were flying once again?
: No, sir. No, Senator. The reason that a decision
was needed was because the flight embargo -- the grounding was
still in effect.