The Book Patrick Fitzgerald Doesn't Want You to Read

Posted on July 6, 2009

Photo of Peter Lance, Patrick Fitzgerald and the cover of Triple Cross


He was named one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. He is the reason Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been indicted and that Patty Blagojevich ended up in the Costa Rican jungle with Heidi and Spencer on the reality show I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. He is Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (pictured, far right), the Forrest Gump of the Justice Department: if there was a high profile criminal case, Fitzgerald was there in front of the cameras using his folksy baseball metaphors to explain why whoever he was prosecuting needed to be in jail. From the prosecution of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others connected with the World Trade Center bombings, to the Valerie Plame leak case, to the prosecution of Barack Obama's early supporter Tony Rezko, Fitzgerald has been there. He even made headlines by sending New York Times reporter Judith Miller to jail for 85 days for refusing to reveal her sources for WMD stories in the run up to the Iraq War. His critics call him a zealot. His supporters call him a modern-day Eliot Ness.

So why has this fighter for truth, justice and the American way launched an eighteen month private war to stop the publication of investigative journalist Peter Lance's book Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI? And why has he threatened to sue the pants off HarperCollins if the publishing giant doesn't pull every copy off bookstore shelves?

Because the book (which just came out in paperback) doesn't paint Fitzgerald's career-making actions in a very flattering light. Five time Emmy Award winning journalist and bestselling author Peter Lance (pictured, far left) exposes multiple mistakes made by the FBI and the Justice Department -- and Fitzgerald in particular -- during the time leading up to the World Trade Center bombings and to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Lance says in a new article that Triple Cross is the first book to audit the two principal offices that investigated Osama bin Laden: the Southern District of New York (where Fitzgerald supervised the mafia and terrorism cases) and the FBI's New York office (where Fitzgerald worked on cases with the bin Laden Squad). Triple Cross reveals how Fitzgerald had been outmaneuvered for years by Ali Mohamed, Al Qaeda's top spy, and shows how Fitzgerald and the feds ignored a mountain of evidence that could have helped other U.S. intelligence agencies stop the activities of al Qaeda years before 9/11 happened. For example, in the late 80s and early 90s the FBI spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars getting the evidence to indict and convict Mafia don John Gotti. But, according to Peter Lance's books, if the feds had spent even half the time surveilling a known al-Queda hotspot just across the Hudson River in New Jersey as they spent watching Gotti at the Little Italy social club, the Twin Towers might still be standing today. Evidence that al-Qaeda was operating in the U.S. and planning something big was simply ignored.

Fitzgerald refused to be interviewed for the book and still won't answer questions about the allegations in the book. Fitzgerald says that Lance blames him for 9/11. Lance (who has written two other bestselling, well-regarded books on 9/11 and terrorism and testified in front of the 9/11 Commission) says that he makes no such specific claims in the book. He says that his investigative work merely shines a light on all the serious mistakes made in the run up to 9/11: his evidence reveals that in 1995 the FBI and the Justice Department had in their hands evidence of a 9/11-style hijacking plot. Whistleblowers from the FBI talked to Lance and Lance has documents and transcripts that support their statements. Triple Cross may read like a thriller, but it is completely nonfiction. The book is supported by 1,485 endnotes and 32 pages of documentary evidence. Nothing is withheld.

Fitzgerald succeeded in delaying the new paperback version of the book for nearly two years as HarperCollins and Peter Lance checked and rechecked every fact and allegation in the book. HarperCollins and its attorneys then decided to go ahead with publication, despite the lawsuit threat.

Recently, Lance filed an ethics complaint with the Justice Department demanding an investigation over Fitzgerald's actions. Lance says Fitzgerald improperly used government resources to intimidate HarperCollins into killing the book. (Fitzgerald is objecting to the book personally, not in his capacity as a government official and is not allowed to imply that it is the government that is threatening to sue.)

It's an amazing story and one that has some disturbing implications. Triple Cross is a fantastic, page-turning read: it's available at bookstores everywhere.