The U.S. Blew a Chance to Tap Bin Laden's Cell Phone Before 9/11
Inter-agency squabbling doomed an Afghan wireless network intelligence project
Here's a missed opportunity. In 1999, the U.S. was months away from completing a cell phone network in Afghanistan that would've granted wide access to al-Qaeda and Taliban phone calls prior to 9/11. Unfortunately, inter-agency bickering between the FBI, NSA and CIA over who would control it scuttled the project, a former NSA official tells Vanity Fair's David Rose. “Had this network been built with the technology that existed in 2000, it would have been a priceless intelligence asset," the official said. “Why didn’t we put it in? Because we couldn’t fucking agree,” adds a CIA official. The opportunity dates back to 1999 when the Taliban gave license to Afghan Wireless Communications, an American company, to build a wireless and Internet network that would've been controlled by the U.S. The piece features a number of interviews with frustrated national security officials about how close they came to uncovering the necessary intel to foil the 9/11 hijacking plot. The full story is in Vanity Fair's September issue which is now on sale. For the full preview, click here.