- VENICE, Florida -- FBI agents
harassed and intimidated witnesses to the 9/11 terrorist conspiracy's activities
in Florida, issuing warnings to avoid talking with reporters, say current
and former residents in Venice, Florida.
- At least one eyewitness, who knew Mohamed Atta because
he lived next door for a time, received regular visits for over six months
after the attack from FBI agents eager to ensure she continued to remain
silent. Several said they felt unfairly singled out because what they saw
and heard is at considerable variance with the official story of the terrorist
cadre's time in Florida. An American girl named Amanda Keller, for example,
briefly lived with Mohamed Atta in Venice, according to both local news
reports and numerous eyewitnesses.
- She possessed presumably 'scorching-hot' details of life
with a terrorist ringleader. But we never saw her being interviewed by
- The FBI had other ideas.
- A total blackout on information
- With reporters literally camped at her doorstep, Keller
told us she had been so intimidated into silence by the FBI that she spoke
barely a dozen words. "The newspaper quote you read was accurate,"
she said. "I can't really say anything. I'm afraid I'll get in trouble."
- "A N.Y. Times reporter named Chris - young, tall,
kind of heavy, dark hair and a dark goatee - came to my house," she
explained. "And he was mad because I wouldn't talk to him. This dude
would NOT leave me alone. I stood outside arguing with him forever, and
he was trying to trip me up and get me to say something."
- "And so I called the FBI agent that had been calling
me - right while this reporter guy was standing there - and told him this
reporter won't leave me alone. The agent said let me talk to him, so I
handed him the phone. And I don't know what was said, but after that he
left me alone."
- Why had she remained silent? "Because of the intimidation
by the FBI," she replied. "They told me not to talk to anybody,
to keep my mouth shut."
- "Peeling hundreds from his fanny pack"
- The FBI didn't confine their menacing visits just to
people who had lived with the terrorist ringleader. Some got in trouble
just for having lived next-door, like Stephanie Frederickson, a pleasant
50-year old housewife who made the grave mistake of living in an apartment
beside the apartment that Mohamed Atta moved into with Amanda Keller.
- "At first, right after the attack, they (the FBI)
told me I must have been mistaken in my identification," Frederickson
stated. "Then they would insinuate that I was lying. Finally they
stopped trying to get me to change my story. After that they just stopped
by once a week to make sure I hadn't been talking to anyone."
- Frederickson shrugged. "Who was I going to tell?
Everybody around here already knew."
- The Sandpiper Apartments manager, Charlie Grapentine,
is a grizzled Korean vet in his early 60's. The FBI did not his recollections
any more warmly than they had those of Stephanie Frederickson.
- "Atta always carried a fanny pack around his waist,"
Grapentine told us. "I remember Amanda once telling him that she needed
some new clothes, and he reached in and peeled off a few hundreds from
a thick roll of cash he had stuffed inside the fanny pack."
- But, we all have careers to think about...
- Grapentine turns grim on the subject of the FBI's treatment.
"They called me a liar, and told me to keep my mouth shut," stated
the ex-marine through clenched teeth. "Nobody likes to hear that:
that they didn't see something they know they saw."
- Keller, Frederickson, and Grapentine, are just three
examples of the apparently officially-sanctioned silencing of eyewitnesses
in Florida to the terrorist's activities.
- They are by no means alone in having felt official pressure
to keep silent.
- Longboat Key fire captain Carroll Mooneyhan was waiting
in the lobby of the hotel President Bush was staying at the night before
the attack, for Bush to come out for his morning run when he saw something
he shouldn't have. Something pretty big, actually...
- After talking with local reporters he clammed up. When
we finally reached him by phone, Mooneyhan, who witnessed the launch of
an attempt to assassinate the President, told us: "I was visited by
the CIA and the Secret Service after 9/11. I have a career to think about.
I have to be careful what I say."
- And that was the last we heard from him.
- A lesson for our times
- You can count the number of investigative journalists
who have followed the trail of the 9/11 terrorist conspiracy during their
time in the U.S. on one hand and pick your nose at the same time.
- It's time for a change.