Here's the conspiracy theory, reported at the DailyBeast and offered by the highest-level White House official on counterterrorism at the time, based on the facts available. Close your eyes and ears at DailyKos, because this theory involves the same CIA that was training Markos C. Alberto Moulitsas Zúñiga (MAMZ) to be a "secret agent" during and two years after the year of the 9-11 terror attacks:
Did the CIA keep mum about two 9/11 hijackers because it tried and failed to recruit them? Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan [are] authors of 'The Eleventh Day,' on whether there’s any truth behind ex-Bush official Richard Clarke’s claim.
Former White House counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke has reignited controversy by speculating, in an interview cited in Thursday’s Daily Beast, that the CIA intentionally withheld advance knowledge of two of the 9/11 hijackers from the White House and the FBI, in an attempt to cover up the agency’s failed effort to recruit the two men as assets.There's a 9-11 conspiracy theory that could not be printed at DailyKos (because Kos doesn't tolerate conspiracy theories about the CIA) even though this theory comes from Richard Clarke, top counter-terrorism aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, before, during and after 9-11.
Former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke says that although the CIA shared much information with him, he and the Bush and Clinton White Houses were never told that the CIA had identified two of the hijackers of the 9-11 jets long before the attacks; knew that they had attended Al Quaeda attack meetings overseas and knew their exact whereabouts within the United States.
The DailyBeast reports:
Clarke’s comments—and immediate, emphatic denials from former CIA director George Tenet and two senior CIA officials involved—go to the core of one of the enduring enigmas about 9/11.
Things began to unravel for the CIA on the day of the attacks, just four hours after the Qaeda strikes, according to research we conducted for our new book, The Eleventh Day. Soon after 1 p.m. that day, at agency headquarters in Langley, an aide handed Director Tenet the passenger manifests for the four downed airliners. “Two names,” he said, placing a page on the table where the director could see it, “these two we know."
Tenet looked, then breathed, “There it is. Confirmation. Oh, Jesus ...”There on the manifest for Flight 77, listed as traveling in first class, were the names of Nawaf al-Hazmi and his brother, Salem. Also on the manifest, near the front of the coach section, was passenger Khalid al-Mihdhar.
The names Hazmi and Mihdhar were instantly familiar, Tenet has said, because his people had learned only weeks earlier that both men might be in the United States. According to the director’s version of events, the CIA had known of Mihdhar since as early as 1999, identified him as a terrorist suspect by December that year, had him followed, learned he had a valid multiple-entry visa for the United States, and placed him and comrades—including Hazmi—under surveillance for a few days in Southeast Asia. Later, in the spring of 2000, the agency had learned that Hazmi, who also had a multiple-entry visa, had arrived in California.
The CIA knew of two of the hijackers but made no attempt to prevent them from entering the United States and no attempt to detain them. This, according to Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke, is not a "conspiracy theory, but is rather a conspiracy fact:
Clarke, who led governmentwide counterterrorism efforts from the White House during the Bush and Clinton administration, has said in the past that he was astonished to learn after 9/11 that the CIA had long known about the presence of Hazmi and Mihdhar inside the United States.
“To this day, it is inexplicable why, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me,” Clarke said in the interview for the documentary, referring to Tenet and Cofer Black. “They told us everything—except this.”
He said that if he had known anything about Hazmi and Mihdhar even days before 9/11, he would have ordered an immediate manhunt to find them—and that it would have succeeded, possibly disrupting the 9/11 plot.
“We would have conducted a massive sweep,” he said. “We would have conducted it publicly. We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind, even with only a week left. They were using credit cards in their own names. They were staying in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, for heaven’s sake.” He said that “those guys would have been arrested within 24 hours.”
Here's my conspiracy theory: Director Tenet kept Clarke out of the loop on director orders from Vice President Dick Cheney, who perceived the immense political benefits that would derive from letting these men go ahead with their terrorist plots, and then bringing the nation into a virtual state of siege based on what had happened. The power of the Presidency (and the Vice President) was greatly enhanced by the 9-11 attacks.