+300 interviewed in terror threat investigation
September 12th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

+300 interviewed in terror threat investigation

By Senior Producer Carol Cratty

The FBI has interviewed more than 300 people while investigating threat information that terrorist operatives might attack New York City or Washington, DC around the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a federal law enforcement official said Monday. But all those people were cleared and there is no evidence Al Qaeda operatives entered the U.S. to attempt to strike with a vehicle bomb or some other form of violence.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the intelligence received last week "was not useless chatter" and that officials would continue "pulling all the threads on that threat and chasing it down."

Carney said U.S. officials are relieved the September 11th anniversary "went off without an incident," but he added, "We don't suddenly stop our vigilance the day after."

The New York Police Department ramped up security in response to the threat information. Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said the force will continue such tactics as vehicle check points and additional subway bag screening at least through the Monday night rush hour. Browne said after that "a decision will be made whether or not to keep security at the current elevated levels."

According to the federal law enforcement official, investigators and analysts had an initial list of about a thousand people to look at in connection with the threat information, but were able to winnow that down to 300 people to interview as possible operatives, people who might provide help to any plotters, or people who just might have some knowledge of a terror scheme. But none of those leads panned out.

The official stressed, "We'll stay at this a while, on alert for any suspicious activity" connected to the threat intelligence.  

A different U.S. official said analysts need more time "to try to find information that confirms or debunks" the threat. This official said all of the public attention and the additional security measures could have prompted terrorists to change their timing or give up on this particular attempt. 

Both officials, who were not authorized to discuss the investigation on the record, said it may be difficult to determine whether there was an actual plot.

- CNN's Susan Candiotti and Pam Benson contributed to this report

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Filed under: 9/11 • Al Qaeda • Homeland Security • Intelligence • Living With Terror
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. oneSTARman

    TERROR WAR – Grade School Children in the U.S. have Never Known a time without TERROR and WAR – What Kind of Way is this to LIVE? Will we NEVER go back to the LAND of the FREE and the Home of the BRAVE? Or will we cower under our collective Bed FOREVER?

    September 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Reply
  2. nik green

    I do not deny the involvement of foreign terrorists in the attacks. Here's the *HUGE PROBLEM*: The alleged ability of terrorists to bring down three massive buildings with *two* planes, in ways that flagrantly violate three fundamental laws of physics, namely Newton's 2nd Law of Motion, the second law of thermodynamics, and the Law of Conservation of Momentum. Since the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC7 are central to what happened that day, it is of fundamental importance that America finally gets this horrible affair settled once and for all, with a full, independent, scientifically rigorous, criminal investigation into this bizarre occurrence and everything that happened that day. 

    The 9/11 Commission was an abject, total failure, a national disgrace. Here is a sampling of what Commission staff have said about their own inquiry:
    *According to the 9/11 Commission co-chairs, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the Commission was deliberately "set up to fail".
    *Commission Chief Counsel John Farmer has publicly stated that the the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission's report are "almost entirely untrue" and "there was a general agreement at some level in government not to tell the truth about the events of that day". 

    *9/11 Commissioner 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: "It is a national scandal"; "This investigation is now compromised"; and "...one of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up".  

    *9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that "There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn't have access . . . "

    *9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said "We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting".

    *Senator Mark Dayton, Member, Senate Committee on Armed Services and Homeland Security: "NORAD lied to the American people, they lied to Congress and they lied to your 9/11 Commission...the most gross incompetence and dereliction of responsibility and negligence".

    The above statements represent the tip of the iceberg, regarding criticism of the 9/11 Commission, but the mainstream media, for reasons that remain unclear, have decided that discussion of the 9/11 subject is taboo, unless it conforms 100% with the approved version of events.

    The 9/11 Commission report was in essence "drylabbed"; in scientific circles, this means they cheated. (The method of cheating used was to cherry-pick the evidence, dismissing everything which did not support their pre-ordained conclusion).  The 9/11 Commission was compromised to the point that it is not worth the paper it was printed upon.

    If Islamic terrorists were wholly to blame for the events of 9/11, why would the Bush Administration bend over backwards to scupper their own (albeit very reluctant, underfunded and much delayed) dog's dinner of an "inquiry"? When investigations are compromised, common sense tells us that someone is being protected. Surely the investigation of "how Osama bin Laden and the 19 alleged hijackers managed to evade the entire US military/security/intelligence/law enforcement apparatus without warning" would be Urgent Priority Number One. Common sense tells us that "the innocent government of a stricken nation" would do their damnedest to investigate, until every person involved (the planners, the funders, the material and information suppliers, the perpetrators themselves, and all those accessory before *and* after the fact) were securely put away behind bars for life. 

    The Bush Administration, and now the Obama Administration, and related parties, for whatever reasons which remain untold to the Americanpeople, decided otherwise. In other words, to hell with them all… they are seemingly on the same side as the terrorists.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  3. Turtle

    One woman's account: http://shebshi.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/some-real-shock-and-awe-racially-profiled-and-cuffed-in-detroit/

    You call being strip searched and detained without being told why an interview?!

    September 12, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  4. delia

    That couple having sex in the planes's restroom*just doesn't make any sense*Are we someone's joke or what?

    September 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  5. Roberto

    The Republicans disagree. All of those questioned and detained should be water-boarded. And then hanged, drawn and quartered according to the Republican due-process procedure.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  6. dannyd

    Wgy don!t we get to interrogate theseterrorest

    September 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  7. nik green

    In the absence of terrorism, the corporate media have taken up the slack.

    Send them all to Guantanamo Bay.

    Screw the Goebbels wannabe mainstream media weasel scumballs.

    September 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Reply
    • Nathan

      Nik have you been insane since birth due to a brain defect or was it a terrible childhood accident?

      September 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Reply
      • nik green

        The only tactic remaining for those who have no argument is to name-call, Well done, Nathan.

        September 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  8. Mark

    God bless America!

    September 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Reply
    • oneSTARman

      WHY Should He Bless Kidnapping Torturers Bent on Destroying the World just to run our Air Conditioners and Cars?

      September 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Reply
    • scndnv

      Yes, bless these 300 million consumers!

      September 17, 2011 at 10:36 am | Reply
  9. Tommy

    Terrorism, by its very definition, is meant to inspire terror in a society to the point where that society is no longer a faint resemblance of its former self.

    By that definition, the terrorists have won. People fear each other now more than they ever did. (Staying in the bathroom too long. Really?) And we're just handing over our rights to the government like our tax dollars. We're no longer truely free. "Those that would sacrifice freedom for security will find that they inherit neither." – Benjamin Franklin.

    Wake up America. It is in the face of adversity that we must strive to hold on to our way of life more visciously than ever. If our Founders were alive today they would be greatly ashamed of the country they established. Stop bending over backwards to "the man." Say no to grope-downs at security lines. Protest the police when they shatter the 4th amendment. Tell officers they're wrong when they say videotaping them is against the law.

    Develop some form of testicular fortitude and say no to slavery and yes to true freedom.

    Otherwise we'll go from "The land of the free and home of the brave" to "The land of cowards and home of the slaves."

    September 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Reply
    • Really411

      I agree to some extent, but we have also come together as nation. Before 9/11/01 people would let terrorists take a plane they believed they would be rescued by others. Now every passenger is willing to fight for their own lives. The underwear and shoe bomber were both stopped by passengers around them. We are stronger not afraid!

      September 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  10. Alfredo

    24/7 Muslim extremists plan death and destruction world wide. All countries must be proactive in this constant threat...

    September 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  11. Dave

    What happened to the 3 terrorist who all the news said entered on wed. They didn't tell us till Thur. Then said 2 were Americans, on Fri.and Sat. On 9/12/2011 there is no mention of this anywhere. Were they caught or did they really exist? Maybe we'll find out at next milestone or election!!!

    September 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • Turtle

      It's all being hushed up because they were not terrorists. Just a couple of passengers who were racially profiled. Don't want the anyone to look bad to we? Unfortunately for those who want to keep it quiet, one of those detained tweeted about it right up to the moment before police boarded the plane. She has since blogged about her treatment. An American citizen, profiled because of her skin color.


      September 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  12. justin

    Im glad every lead was followed up. Im glad our president doesnt sugar coat & tell us everything will always be great. Cant take our eyes of the ball with these nuts.

    September 12, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • Roger Noe

      More trillions of dollars from the pockets of the poor and middle class being transferred to the already super-rich in the war on terror. Who cares of the old don't eat and the sick die because social security and Medicare are eliminated? DIck Cheney and Wall Street are happy.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  13. karina


    September 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  14. Kimberlykat13

    I was really upset yesterday when I saw the pictures of the muslims demonstrating just beyond the 9/11 rememberance. What kind of fool would post a picture like that (didn't say it was you). It said they were anti-American and this county would become all muslim. It made me sick that the news media would give them any attention on such a day for the USA (plus pictures). And of course they all had their faces covered. They burned the American flag and said they pretty much hate Americans. Oh please, why would you stay in this county if you hate us all. And I apologize for all of the Muslims that do love this county it is not meant for you. This is for all the bad apples out there. They do come in all colors. I know we are the land of the free. But there are limits to what they Americans will put up with PROUD AMERICAN!

    September 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  15. Rhymeskeema

    CNN is winding down this phony story so it can quietly get on with less transparent disinformation.

    September 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  16. Chip

    The U.S. gov't is full of idiots if it believes that any terror cell would strike on the 10th anniversary when they know that our defense will be unusually high on or around that day. C'mon folks—these people aren't idiots. In fact, they're probably far smarter than the average American knowing how pathetic some of our education sectors are. If I were the gov't, I'd keep my ass on high alert until they can officially (and with 100% accuracy) foil this particular threat. September 11th occurred because we were ignorant in believing that we couldn't be attacked and thus, unprepared. It can happen again, it probably will happen again to some extent at some point in the next century or so and we should always be prepared and on the look-out for threats of this nature.

    September 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  17. Bill

    Well, that explains why so many mosques were empty this weekend...

    September 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Reply

      ooooooooooooo, you got em.

      September 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Reply
  18. Richard Hertz

    I tried interviewing a six foot tall blond with six inch heels. She said "sorry buddy, you're TSA". I said "i'm not with the Government". She said " I meant Too Short Amigo, and I don't mean your height". ......................................o, well

    September 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  19. BOb

    We're not afraid, Dynan...we're just vigilant. I'm not afraid, but I am gonna keep my eyes open and take care of business if I need to. But I'm definitely going about my normal day as well...no worries from me baby!

    September 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  20. FParana

    All they had to do was attack us once and we'll be in a state of panic forever.

    September 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Reply
    • Agent_C

      Nonsense... Don't sell your fellow Americans so short.

      September 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
    • Anastrophe

      Well said – 1100 people per day die in the US due to smoking related disease, in effect a 9/11 every 3 days, and we do nothing to stop tobacco companies.

      September 12, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Reply
      • OneTwenty

        Because smoking cigarettes is akin to hijacking commercial airliners and flying them into buildings? Thus producing a state of panic and terrorizing a nation? Your logic is flawless.

        September 12, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  21. Dynan3

    Jack and Jill went up the hill....NO GUNS WERE FOUND!

    STAY AFRAID, AMERICA! STAY VERY AFRAID!!! This is no way to run a civilization.

    September 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Reply
    • VSS

      Hey guys, we're not afraid of you, but we will stay vigilant to make sure you NEVER pull this kind of stuff again! Idiots!

      September 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Reply

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