March 24, 2006, - 6:23 pm

Moussaoui Trial Update: Agent Harry Samit & INS Agent Steven Nordmann, R.I.P.

Tying up a few odds and ends in my continuing commentary on American Hero & FBI Special Agent , and the death penalty phase ( and ).
While I’ve written–and quoted at length–material about the heroic and desperate attempts by Agent Samit to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings to the repeated denials of FBI buffoons in management, I neglected something important–the former INS and its then-agent who arrested Moussaoui in the first place.
The FBI often gets the glory at the expense of other federal law enforcement agencies (though, in this case, FBI Agent Harry Samit deserves a lot of kudos for sacrificing his career to save Americans; he is a hero). The arrest of Moussaoui is one of those cases.

Arrested Moussaoui: INS Counterterrorism Agent Steven J. Nordmann, RIP

Moussaoui, as many former-INS agents have pointed out to me, was arrested by INS agent Steven Nordmann. But former-INS, now ICE, agents who contacted me, the INS is the agency that arrested Moussaoui, Nordmann in particular.
Like Samit, Nordmann also pushed for the FBI to allow a warrant to search Moussaoui’s belongings, and like Samit, he, too, was denied.
A St. Cloud Times story about Nordmann (to which I cannot get the link) described Nordmann’s regret, on 9/11, of being turned down by FBI officials in trying to inspect Moussaoui’s computer:

Nordmann was at a work-sponsored training session not far from the
Pentagon when a Boeing 757 jet crashed into it. He dashed an e-mail to sister Nancy. . . . He wrote that he wished he could have cracked open Moussaoui’s laptop.
His family still wonders what would have happened if things had gone
Nordmann’s way.

He passed away on May 27, 2003, of injuries from a motorcycle accident (he rode a Harley). At the time of his death, he’d been serving on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. According to the St. Cloud Times, Nordmann was the first ICE–Immigration and Customs Enforcement–agent over whose funeral the Federal Protective Service Honor Guard presided.
Both of these are significant because, agents say, with the creation of ICE–and elimination of the INS–immigration agents from both the former-INS and U.S. Customs Service have severely diminished influence on terrorism cases, both within and without the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Then there are these last related items:
* FBI supervisor (now retired) Michael Rolince testified he never (even after 9/11) read the 25-plus page August 18th memo by Agent Samit recommending a full criminal investigation of Moussaoui as a possible terrorist airplane hijacker. Rolince was FBI Headquarters Supervisor of International Terrorism Operations! Hello? Hello? Hello? . . . . Rolince got to retire without any consequences.
* We’re reminded of this quote from U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee:

The FBI still has not shown itself ready for the 21st Century war against terrorism.


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2 Responses

A detail to JTTF was considered a good gig in 2001 because INS agents were paid at the GS-12 level, but the detail to JTTF paid at the GS-13 level. But, many INS agents would not have had access then to good computer forensics, agents then would have hoped the FBI would come through. But, as we know now, the FBI didn’t even have email and still can’t match a plug with a wall socket.

code7 on March 24, 2006 at 11:17 pm

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