May 23, 2002


FBI's 'Phoenix' Memo Unmasked : Fortune's investigative reporter, the only journalist to see confidential document, reveals its true name and nature. (Richard Behar, May 22, 2002, Fortune)
On July 10, 2001, an FBI agent in Phoenix wrote a memo raising serious concerns about Middle Eastern men attending U.S. flight schools. The memo never made its way up the chain of command, and no action was taken. It wasn't seen by FBI Director Robert Mueller until after Sept. 11, and President Bush wasn't made aware of its contents until a few weeks ago. The confidential document still hasn't been released, and yesterday it was the subject of a closed-door Senate Intelligence Committee session.

Recently, I had a chance to read the memo -- apparently the first journalist to have done so. It was shown to me by a reliable government source, who permitted me to take notes but wouldn't let me copy it. What I learned -- and what FORTUNE aired yesterday on CNN -- is chilling. The memo raises questions about what federal law enforcement officers knew and what they did or didn't do to protect the U.S. from terror attacks in the months before Sept. 11. After reviewing the memo, one cannot help but conclude that the FBI dropped the ball -- perhaps ignoring the alert altogether.

Have you ever written a memo that you expected someone to take seriously? Posted by Orrin Judd at May 23, 2002 2:44 PM
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