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Title: John O'Neill - hero or villain?

KP50 - February 14, 2011 05:53 AM (GMT)
Popular legend has it that John O'Neill was put in charge of the WTC because he knew too much and this was a convenient way to get rid of him. I've never looked into the story in detail but I always bought the "O'Neill's first day on the job was 9/11" story.

First of all, this essay includes analysis of the John O'Neill story/legend. But read the essay anyway if you have the time and you like to think. It also explores recent events at 9/11 Blogger and is generally a thumping good read.

On John O'Neill in particular it includes this information - from an article on the life of John O'Neill

On the day he started at the Trade Center—August 23rd—the C.I.A. sent a cable to the F.B.I. saying that two suspected Al Qaeda terrorists were already in the country. The bureau tried to track them down, but the addresses they had given when they entered the country proved to be false, and the men were never located.

So here we have August 23 as the day he started at the WTC and not the same day as 9/11 or the day before as legend tells us.

From History Commons

August 23, 2001: Former FBI Al-Qaeda Expert Begins Job as Head of Security at the WTC  John O’Neill begins his new job as head of security at the WTC. O’Neill had been the special agent in charge of the FBI’s National Security Division in New York, and was the bureau’s top expert on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. [New York Magazine, 12/17/2001; New Yorker, 1/14/2002] He’d left his job with the FBI just the day before (see August 22, 2001). His friend Jerome Hauer, who is the former head of New York’s Office of Emergency Management, had found him the job at the World Trade Center. Developer Larry Silverstein, who recently took over the lease of the WTC (see July 24, 2001), had been highly impressed with O’Neill but insisted he start in the post no later than the first week of September, when his firm Silverstein Properties is set to assume control of the buildings. O’Neill had agreed to this. [Weiss, 2003, pp. 336-338, 345-346 and 349-351] After hearing that O’Neill has got this job, Chris Isham, a senior producer at ABC News who is a close friend, says to him, “Well, that will be an easy job. They’re not going to bomb that place again.” O’Neill replies, “Well actually they’ve always wanted to finish that job. I think they’re going to try again.” [PBS Frontline, 5/31/2002] After a few days as the WTC security director, O’Neill will move into his new office on the 34th floor of the South Tower. [Weiss, 2003, pp. 353-354 and 366]
Entity Tags: John O’Neill, Jerry Hauer, Larry Silverstein, Chris Isham, World Trade Center
Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 7, 2001: New Security Director Criticizes Poor Security at the World Trade Center  Former FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill recently started his new job as director of security at the World Trade Center (see August 23, 2001). From the outset, he has engrossed himself in discovering what security systems are in place there, and what will be needed in future. On this day, he runs into Rodney Leibowitz, a friend of his, and complains to him about the very poor standard of security at the Twin Towers. For instance, he mentions that, even though the complex receives bomb threats on a daily basis, its telephone system does not feature caller identification. [Weiss, 2003, pp. 354 and 358] The Trade Center has in fact recently been on a heightened security alert, due to numerous phone threats (see Late August-September 10, 2001). [Newsday, 9/12/2001] Leibowitz is the president and CEO of a company called First Responder Inc., which provides bioterrorism preparedness training to healthcare professionals. [First Responder Inc., 1/14/2004] Until the 9/11 attacks intervene, First Responder Inc. is in fact scheduled to send in a team to conduct a threat assessment of the World Trade Center for O’Neill on September 15. [Swanson, 2003, pp. 52]
Entity Tags: John O’Neill, First Responder Inc., World Trade Center, Rodney Leibowitz
Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

So that's fairly strong evidence that O'Neill was there weeks before 9/11 and therefore, as head of security, must have been intimately involved in ensuring that there were no hitches in the plans.

Add in this also from History Commons

July 5-16, 2001: John O’Neill’s Movements in Spain Roughly Overlap with Those of 9/11 Hijackers and Associates

The movements of John O’Neill, the FBI manager responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden, appear to mirror those of the 9/11 hijackers and their associates while they are in Spain. Associates of the hijackers gather in Granada, in southern Spain, at the beginning of July (see July 6, 2001 and Shortly After). O’Neill arrives in Spain with some friends on July 5 and stays in Marbella until at least July 8. For at least part of the time in Marbella he is accompanied by Mark Rossini, an FBI agent currently detailed to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, who translates for O’Neill in Spain and whose friend lets O’Neill use his beach house. [WEISS, 2003, PP. 340-2; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 316-7, 344-5] (Note: Marbella and Granada are both in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia, but are about 120 miles apart.) Lead hijacker Mohamed Atta then arrives in Madrid on July 8, leaving on July 9. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 244] O’Neill and Rossini arrive in Madrid on July 9 and O’Neill gives a speech to the Spanish Police Foundation there on July 10. [SPANISH POLICE FOUNDATION, 7/10/2001; WEISS, 2003, PP. 340-2] After leaving Madrid, Atta travels to Catalonia, where he meets Ramzi bin al-Shibh and possibly other associates (see July 8-19, 2001). The authors of The Cell, one of whom—John Miller—was a close friend of O’Neill’s, will say O’Neill also visits the same part of Catalonia to make a speech at some point on his trip to Spain (note: it is unclear whether this is just a garbled account of his speech in Madrid, or whether he made two speeches). They will also say that he and Atta even stay at the same hotel, the Casablanca Playa in the small town of Salou, but at different times. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 289-90, 293] O’Neill leaves Spain on July 16, so he and his girlfriend Valerie James would probably be in the Salou area at around the same time as Atta, bin al-Shibh, and their associates. [WEISS, 2003, PP. 340-2] The overlap between the 9/11 operatives on the one hand and O’Neill and Rossini on the other is usually ignored in media accounts, but the episode in Salou is mentioned in The Cell, which indicates it is a mere coincidence. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 289-90]
Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, John O’Neill, Mark Rossini, Ramzi bin al-Shibh
Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

and the coincidences keep on coming. Anyway read the whole essay if you have an interest. He makes a good case for the fact that O'Neill was up to his eyes in 9/11 and given his body was identified by Hauer, maybe he didn't die on 9/11 at all - he merely disappeared to a new life.

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