Washington: An intelligence operation, which involved the setting up of a cell-phone and Internet system in Afghanistan in 1999, ran into a major obstacle from the Clinton administration and was hampered by a lack of cooperation from the CIA, the FBI and the National Security, it has emerged.
According to Vanity Fair magazine, the plan, named ‘Operation Foxden’, was for an American telecommunications firm set up by an Afghan-American FBI source to win a contract from the ruling Taliban government and wire the nation.
The magazine's contributing editor David Rose said that the network would have been linked to the NSA's headquarters in Fort Meade and could have logged every call made, the number called and a recording of the call, CBS News reports.
Had the secret deal been completed, the US would have had complete access to al Qaeda and Taliban calls, and e-mails.
According to the report, the deal could have been a priceless intelligence asset that could have prevented the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Taliban inked a deal in June 1999 giving the FBI's source a monopoly on Afghanistan’s cell phone network for 15 years, Rose said.
Operation Foxden hit a major roadblock when president (Bill) Clinton signed an executive order preventing US citizens from doing business with the Taliban.
The FBI and the NSA attempted to receive an exemption from the order and tried to manoeuvre around it but couldn’t, the report said.
Rose reported that when the CIA became involved in January 2000, the plan was virtually mired in an ‘interagency review’ until after Clinton left office.
First Published: Saturday, August 06, 2011, 13:55