Testimony of Former FBI Agent Adam Drucker at the 9/11 Hearings in Guantanamo Bay
On 29 October 2019, I observed the testimony of witness Adam Drucker, a former FBI Agent who was involved in the investigation into the 9/11 attacks. I have attempted to summarise the testimony below but attending the hearings for the first time this week without being able to fully read the background and documents beforehand, there are parts of the testimony which were slightly difficult to follow. This is also due to the fact that unfortunately the Military Commissions website is not accessible outside the US (www.mc.mil).
Former Agent Drucker has been called by the defence team representing Mr. Baluchi as part of several hearings where the defence are asking for the suppression of the interrogations of the accused which were conducted by the FBI in Guantanamo Bay in 2007. Mr. Drucker is a former special agent of the FBI and now works for a financial institution in the US. He explained that he was one of 1,000 agents in New York City in 2001 and worked for the bank fraud squad.
Mr. Drucker described his personal experience of the morning of 11 September 2001. He stated that he was on his way to buy coffee with colleagues and noticed papers flying in the air and saw that the World Trade Centre had been hit. He said that he and his colleagues went to the World Trade Centre and saw chaos and destruction. He described the moment when the first tower collapsed and the cloud of smoke and debris and how he managed to avoid injury. He went on to say that a field office was setup as the FBI Headquarters was unable to be used. In the immediate aftermath of the attack he worked on leads based on the USS Intrepid and also from the morgue, describing in detail the injuries which had been suffered by the victims.
In the weeks after the attacks, Mr. Drucker was assigned as a counter-terrorism agent investigating the financial aspects of the 9/11 attacks. He stated that in early 2002 he was sent to the United Arab Emirates with Agent Perkins to collect documents and visit banks and financial institutes and built relationships with the UAE authorities. He stated that he visited the UAE on another two occasions in 2002 and that the UAE officials brought witnesses to him. Mr. Drucker next told Mr. Connell, defence counsel, that he learned of the arrest of Ramzi bin al-Shibh whilst he was in the UAE and he and Agent Perkins were requested to fly to Karachi, Pakistan.
Upon arrival in Karachi they were escorted by an individual to a room in the US Consulate which had boxes with evidence which had been collected from multiple raid sites. Mr. Drucker stated that he and Agent Perkins began to examine the contents until they were told to leave by an individual who could not be identified for national security reasons. They were later taken to watch the interrogations at another location controlled by Pakistani authorities. Mr. Drucker described how people were rummaging through suitcases of evidence and that proper procedures were clearly not being adhered to, describing the situation as ‘a feeding frenzy’. Mr. Drucker stated that he discovered a lanyard with Mr. Baluchi’s name and a diploma with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s name on it.
Mr. Drucker next spoke about how a hooded prisoner was brought into a room and sat on the floor and questions were asked by the interrogators. He indicated that he had personally witnessed four such interrogations over two days. Although Mr. Drucker thought he was there to see Ramzi bin al-Shibh he was subsequently told that he had been taken elsewhere. Mr. Drucker testified that he next went to Islamabad where the evidence he had seen previously in the Consulate was and at this point was being correctly handled.
Later, Mr. Drucker was asked about his testimony before the 9/11 Commission and how he had stated that sometimes what the detainees were telling the CIA was not always the truth as he knew the answers to some of the questions already and these were not the answers which were provided by the detainees.
Mr. Connell presented Mr. Drucker with a cable from the FBI to the CIA with potential questions to put to Mr. Baluchi while he was being held at a ‘black site’. The exact contents of this cable were not read in court due to it being classified.
The afternoon session ended with two short video clips being played to the court of Mr. Drucker’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission. Mr. Drucker was seen quoting from a statement made by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed which he confirms was classified information even though the proceedings were being broadcast on television. Mr. Drucker stated that all information was up for discussion at the Commission proceedings including classified information.
On 30 October 2019, Mr. Drucker was back in Court to continue with his direct examination by Mr. Connell. He testified regarding the joint CIA-FBI team which was responsible for investigating terrorism. Mr. Connell began to ask about email communications at which point the feed was cut to the public gallery. There is an unique system in place in the courtroom to prevent ‘spillage’ of classified information. On the Bench next to the judge sits a security officer who has in front of him a red button and a red flashing light. The button is hit when there may have been a potential leak of classified information, the red light starts to flash and white noise is played into the gallery. Upon resumption the Judge announced that in an abundance of caution if any Party raises a potential leak of classified information, he will immediately hit the red button going forward.
Mr. Connell asked Mr. Drucker about the manner in which the CIA and FBI communicated, and several cables were discussed, including one from the FBI to the CIA with potential questions for detainees held in black sites.
Mr. Drucker next testified that there was a plan put in place for the FBI to have access to the detainees once they were transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He thought that he would interview Mr. Baluchi and Mr. Hawsawi as they are accused of sending funds to the hijackers, but this is not what happened and instead he was observing in case the interrogators needed to ask him questions, which ultimately, they did not. He stated that these new rounds of interrogations took place in January 2007 and that he watched the interrogations of Mr. Mohammed, Mr. al Baluchi and Mr. Hawsawi. Mr. Drucker explained that he was detailed to the CIA for a five-year period but kept access to his FBI emails as well as his CIA email system.
After the direct examination, Prosecutor Ryan proceeded with cross-examination asking Mr. Drucker about terror attacks which occurred prior to 9/11 including the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2003 World Trade Centre bombing and the attack on the USS Cole. Mr. Drucker stated that the 9/11 attacks were unprecedented and changed his career from focussing on bank fraud to focussing on terrorism. He agreed that the attacks brought down the wall between criminal and intelligence agencies and that the US was at war.
Mr. Drucker testified that they had initially found Western Union receipts in the trash at a hotel where one of the hijackers had stayed and that this financial trail ultimately led to finding other accused, included Mr. al Baluchi. He continued to explain in detail some of the other financial investigations he had undertaken which led to identifying the accused.
Mr. Drucker was asked about the interrogations which took place in 2007 at Guantanamo Bay of the accused and stated that they were more like conversations and that at one-point Mr. Baluchi had commented on how delicious the McDonalds was which they had provided him for lunch. He stated that there was no indication that the interviews were being done involuntarily.
During re-direct, by Mr. Connell, Mr. Drucker stated that he prefers to use the term interviews for the 2007 questioning as for him interrogation is when ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ were used, and this was not the case during the 2007 interviews.
The open session testimony ended with some questions from Mr. Sowards, defence counsel for Mr. Mohammed. He asked Mr. Drucker whether he knew what had happened to the accused when they were held in the black sites to which Mr. Drucker responded that he had heard rumours that some of them were subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) but he had not been told by anyone the full details. He said he had learned about EITs when he was detailed to the CIA in 2004 but that it had stopped. Mr. Sowards then asked Mr. Drucker whether he was aware that Mr. Mohammed had been hung from the ceiling naked for 12 hours at a time, subjected to multiple anal rapes and had threats made to his family. Mr. Drucker responded that he was not aware and that these things were not the EITs that he had been made aware of. Mr. Sowards asked whether if he had known this information whether he would recategorize the 2007 questioning and indicated that the accused could have been complying as to avoid a repeat of the EITs they had previously being subjected to at the black sites. Mr. Drucker sad he was not a medical professional and unable to answer that question.
The open testimony of Mr. Drucker concluded mid-afternoon and the public gallery was cleared as the court moved into closed session which is scheduled to continue throughout 31 October.