Sunshine State Secrets


Something strange is going on in Florida. Again. The FBI is pouring over a home evidently vacated in a hurry by a Saudi family immediately before 9/11. The warrant is sealed, so facts are scarce.

But parsing what is being reported, things don't add up. The Washington Post quotes an unnamed FBI official as saying a 22-year-old who lived in the house attended the same flight school as two of the 9/11 hijackers. The Miami Herald merely says he attended a nearby flight school, quite a different thing.

The Post also quotes neighbors of the family as saying they immediately began calling the FBI after 9/11 begging them to check out the situation. They eventually gave up after getting no response. The Herald adds the wrinkle that the bureau is interested in Islamic charities the family may have given to, but makes it seem that complaints from the neighborhood association about a messy yard this past October triggered FBI action.

If the Post's version is correct, we've got yet another example of the Bureau failing to do basic investigative field work. It sure looks like the FBI only got interested in the matter after someone's name turned up in one of its dragnets of financial records.

One would think that the FBI's counter-terrorism performance would be a topic for the new 9/11 commission that gets underway next week.