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build transistors.
By 2001, researchers at MIT were actively attempting to marry the



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digital with the biological by altering the common E. coli bacterium to
function as an electronic circuit. Such a melding would produce a
computer part with the unique ability to continually reproduce itself.
Through such a process, enormous numbers of nearly identical
processors could be "grown." "We would like to make processors by the
wheelbarrow-load," said MIT computer scientist Harold Abelson. Abelson
and his colleagues are hoping to someday map circuitry onto biological
material, in a process they call amorphous computing, thus turning
living cells into digital logic circuits. However, since the cells could
compute only while alive, millions or billions of the tiny biocomponents
would have to be packed into the smallest spaces possible.
Bell Labs, part of Lucent Technologies, is also perusing the idea of a
"living" computer by creating molecular-size "motors" out of DNA”
motors so small that 30 trillion could fit into a single drop of water.
According to Bell Labs physicist Bernard Yurke, it might eventually be
possible to bind electronic components to DNA. Then, by linking the DNA
strands together, a computer could be created with incredible speed and
storage capacities.
Eventually NSA may secretly achieve the ultimate in quickness,
compatibility, and efficiency”a computer with petaflop and higher
speeds shrunk into a container about a liter in size, and powered by only
about ten watts of power: the human brain.


AFTERWORD
"This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Bob Edwards. The fate of
Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud remains uncertain two
days after he was attacked in his home in northern Afghanistan.
Massoud's followers insist that the assassination attempt failed and that
he is still alive. But there's widespread speculation that he died from his
wounds. NPR's Michael Sullivan reports."
On the second floor of a handsome brick house on Fort Meade's
Butler Avenue, a clock radio, as usual, turned National Public Radio on
at 5:45 A.M. Lieutenant General Michael V. Hayden, the director of the
National Security Agency, slowly adjusted his eyes to the early morning
twilight. It was September 11, 2001, a Tuesday in early autumn. The
sultry air of summer had turned crisp and dry, and yellow school buses
again were prowling suburban streets like aged tigers.
"This is not the first time that Ahmed Shah Massoud's enemies have
tried to kill him," said Michael Sullivan from Islamabad, Pakistan, as the
broadcast continued. "A spokesman said there have been numerous
attempts by the Taliban to assassinate the charismatic commander in
the past few years. . . . Opposition spokesmen say Massoud was
seriously injured when two suicide bombers posing as journalists


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detonated a bomb hidden in their TV camera during an interview with
Massoud on Sunday. . . . Opposition spokesmen have accused the
Taliban of being behind the suicide bombing and hint that Saudi fugitive
Osama bin Laden may also be involved. The assassins, they say, are
Arabs who had come from the Taliban-controlled capitol, Kabul."
Suicide bombing, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban. If Michael Hayden
was listening, it was not a good way to start the morning. Long one of
NSA's chief targets, bin Laden had been eluding the agency's
eavesdroppers since 1998, when an American missile attack on his
compound in Afghanistan made him think twice about using satellite
communications. Until then, his voice had been heard frequently within
the agency's thick, copper-lined walls. For highly cleared visitors from
other intelligence agencies, officials would even play recordings of bin
Laden chatting with his mother in Syria.

In 1996, bin Laden was planning to move his headquarters from
Sudan to remote Afghanistan, where communications would be a serious
problem. But his man in London, Khalid al-Fawwaz, had a solution. "To
solve the problem of communication," he wrote to bin Laden that year, "it
is indispensable to buy the satellite phone." Bin Laden agreed, and
al-Fawwaz, who would later be charged with conspiring with bin Laden to
murder American citizens abroad (as of this writing, he is awaiting
extradition from England), turned to a student at the University of
Missouri at Columbia, Ziyad Khalil. Khalil had become a spokesman for
the rights of Muslim students at the university, and he agreed to help al-
Fawwaz purchase the $7,500 satellite phone, although there is no
evidence that he knew he was procuring it on behalf of bin Laden. After
doing some research, Khalil then bought the phone from a firm on New
York's Long Island.
Another break for bin Laden came on the evening of April 3, 1996,
when a powerful Atlas rocket slipped gracefully into the sky from Cape
Canaveral's Launch Complex 36A. Sitting atop the spacecraft, beneath a
protective clam-shell sheath, was the first of a new generation of
Inmarsat communications satellites on its way to geostationary orbit
more than 22,000 miles over the Indian Ocean. The satellite, owned by
the International Maritime Satellite Organization, would be used largely
by ships at sea as well as people in isolated parts of the world, such as
oil explorers.
Over the next two years, the phone was used for hundreds of calls to
London, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Sudan. Bin Laden's telephone
number”00873682505331”also turned up in the private phone books
and date planners of terrorists in Egypt and Kenya. It was even used, say
investigators, to disseminate bin Laden's February 1998 fatwah that
declared American civilians should be killed. From 1996 through 1998,
Khalil ordered more than 2,000 minutes of telephone airtime for bin
Laden's phone.


513
Eventually the phone was also used by bin Laden and his top
lieutenants to orchestrate the bombings of the two U.S. embassies in
East Africa in 1998. In October 1997, Ibrahim Eidarous, currently
awaiting extradition from England as part of the embassy bombing
conspiracy, sent word from London to Afghanistan asking Ayman al-
Zawahiri, bin Laden's right-hand man, to call 956375892. This was a
mobile phone in London belonging to yet another alleged embassy
bombing coconspirator, Abdel Bary, who is also awaiting extradition from
London. The following day, bin Laden's satellite phone was used to make
several calls to that phone number in London.
But even though NSA had the capability to intercept many
conversations to and from bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda”
including some of those allegedly involved in the bombing of the
American embassies in East Africa”the information was not enough to
prevent the attacks.
Many of the calls were intercepted by Britain's GCHQ at their listening
post at Morwenstow, near Bude, in Cornwall. There, close to the endless
whitecaps of the Celtic Sea, nearly a dozen dishes pick up signals from
commercial satellites such as Inmarsat and INTELSAT. The intercepted
phone calls, faxes, Internet, and data transfers are then forwarded to
GCHQ's sprawling headquarters in Cheltenham. Once filtered and
analyzed, they would be forwarded to NSA over secure, encrypted
communications links.
Other calls to and from bin Laden were picked up thousands of miles
to the south of Afghanistan, at a listening post run by Australia's
Defense Signals Division located at Geraldton, a scruffy port on the
Indian Ocean about 210 miles north of Perth. Situated in the
westernmost part of the country, Geraldton was built in 1994 to
eavesdrop on commercial satellites over the Indian Ocean.
Eventually, following President Clinton's 1998 American cruise missile
attack on bin Laden's camp in Afghanistan, and the realization that his
location could be betrayed by signals from the satellite phone, he stopped
using the instrument. Now when one calls his number, all they hear is a
recording stating he is "not logged on or not in the dialed ocean region."
Since 1998, bin Laden communicates only through messengers who
make calls for him from distant locations. Nevertheless, these are also
occasionally intercepted. One such call, picked up by NSA early in
September 2001, was from a bin Laden associate to bin Laden's wife in
Syria, advising her to return to Afghanistan. At the time, it was filed
away when instead it should have been one more clue, one more reason
for director Hayden to worry on the morning of September 11.

About 6:50, as General Hayden was pulling his Volvo into a parking
spot near the entrance to OPS 2B, many other NSA employees were
arriving at Crypto City. Thousands lived just a few miles away in Laurel,
Maryland, long the company town. On September 11, as on most


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mornings, they slowly snaked their way through the city on US Route 1,
passing gritty strip malls selling doughnuts and pizza, and cheap motels
with parking lots of aging cars and tractorless cabs. One of those was the
Valencia Motel, a tired, eighty-unit structure of brick, Formstone, and
tan siding. A garish, mustard-colored sign announced the place to weary
travelers.
In an irony of tragic proportions, as many early morning NSA
employees passed the motel, some off to continue their hunt for
terrorists, they crossed paths with bin Laden's men as they embarked on
the worst attack against America in history. Had an NSA worker looked
over at the right time that morning, they might have seen five men
emerge from Room 345 and climb into a blue, four-door Toyota Corolla
with California tags. They were Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, Khalid
Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi on their way to
Washington's Dulles International Airport.
In the days leading up to the September 11 attacks, a great deal of the
planning took place right under NSA's giant ear, in the agency's bedroom
community of Laurel.
Toris Proctor, an unemployed twenty-two-year-old, thought his next-
door neighbors at the Valencia Motel were gay”and unfriendly. Five men
were sharing a room with two double beds, a living room, and
kitchenette. "The gay dudes," he called them. "If you say 'Hello,' it's like
talking to a brick wall." They had checked in at the beginning of
September and used a credit card to pay the $308 for a one-week stay.
"We saw them every day," said Charmain Mungo, another resident. "They
were always in and out. If one left, they all left."
Another resident, Gail North, who also worked at the motel as a
housekeeper, said the men forbade her from entering the room to change
the towels. Instead, they opened the door a crack, passed the dirty items
through, and took clean bathroom supplies in exchange. "We saw them
every day," she said, "but they wouldn't talk to anybody. We live like one
big family here. Even though it is a motel, some of us have been here for
over a year. It's like a neighborhood." The men kept to themselves as they
walked across the street for pizza or brought a load of dirty clothes to the
Sunshine Laundry. "He used the dryer in the back," said Robert
Currence, the night manager. "It was weird. He would look at you
without speaking."
During one of his visits to the hijackers in Laurel, Mohamed Atta used
a supermarket and a Mail Boxes Etc. store in the town to transfer as
much as $10,000”excess funds not spent on the terrorist operations”to
the United Arab Emirates. At nearby Freeway Airport in Bowie, Hani
Hanjour took flying lessons, going aloft with instructors three times in
August. Although he had a pilot's license, he needed to be certified
because he wanted to rent a plane. But after supervising Hanjour on a
series of oblongs above the airport and Chesapeake Bay, the instructors
refused to pass him because of his poor skills.


515
Seeking to stay fit, the five men bought memberships to Gold's Gym a
few miles down the road in Greenbelt beginning September 2. There they
joined the 600 to 1,000 other people, likely including NSA employees,
who worked out each day. "They blended in pretty well," said Gene
LaMott, the president and chief executive of the international fitness
chain. According to LaMott, the men were quiet and generally worked out
in groups, often on the weight-training and resistance machines.
About a mile north of the Valencia on US Route 1 is another seedy
motel the hijackers used, the Pin-Del. On August 27, Ziad Jarrah entered
the motel office. Scattered on a table near the desk were an assortment
of Jehovah's Witness publications with such titles as "Is there really a
devil?" and "When someone you love dies." He paid $132 with a Visa card
for a three-night stay but checked out at 6:20 P.M. the next night and
received a $44 refund. Less than a week later, on September 1, another
suspected hijacker, Nawaf Alhazmi, paid $42.90 in cash for a one-night
stay at the Pin-Del.
The planning completed, the leftover money returned to associates in
the Middle East, and their muscles toned up, Hani Hanjour and his four
associates were ready to begin. About the same time that General
Hayden was starting his morning round of briefings, the hijackers were
arriving at Washington's Dulles International Airport. In their pockets
were one-way tickets on American Airlines Flight 77 to Los Angeles. At
the ticket counter, an agent thought it a bit odd that two of the men,
brothers Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi, were holding first-class tickets”
$2,400 each”but were waiting in the coach line. "Oil money," he
thought.
At Newark airport, Ziad Jarrah joined associates at the boarding gate
for United Airlines Flight 93 bound for San Francisco. Still other
members of the cells, including Mohamed Atta, were arriving for flights in
Boston.

"Good morning," said the captain to the air traffic controllers
disappearing quickly below. "American eleven heavy with you passing
through, ah, two thousand for three thousand." At 7:59 on September
11, American Airlines Flight 11 lifted off from Boston's Logan
International Airport, knifing through the sparkling clear morning air at
race car speed as it climbed from two to three thousand feet. Window
seat passengers could clearly see the glint of sunlight reflecting off the
gold dome of the State House high atop Beacon Hill. "Good morning,"
replied a controller at Boston departure radar. "Traffic ten o'clock, two
miles, maneuvering."
It was early September and a good time to be traveling. The weather
had broken and it was clear and cooler in the Northeast. The
thunderstorms of summer were past, as was the hectic Labor Day
holiday. And the eleventh was a Tuesday, statistically one of the least
busy travel days of the week. For the eighty-one passengers aboard


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Flight 11, less than half full, it meant empty middle seats in which to
stretch out for the long trip to Los Angeles. Normally capable of carrying
up to 269 passengers, the twin-engine Boeing 767”a modern marvel
made up of 3.1 million parts”was one of the long-haul workhorses for
American Airlines. Sloshing around in the wings and other cavities was
up to 23,980 gallons of highly explosive fuel”enough to fill the tanks of
1,200 minivans.
"We have him in sight," replied the pilot. At fifty-two, John Ogonowski
had been flying for half of his life, first in the Air Force at the end of the
Vietnam War and beginning in 1979 with American. Earlier that morning
he had left the tranquility of his 150-acre farm in the northern
Massachusetts town of Dracut. A sweeping expanse of fields and fruit
trees, dotted with farm machinery and stone walls, it was where the
round-faced Ogonowski, a fourth-generation farmer, found peace. Down
from the clouds, he spent his time laboriously plowing and harrowing the
soil. "When his hands were dirty and his pants were filthy, he was always
pretty happy," said his brother, James.
As the plane passed over the small Massachusetts town of Gardner,
about forty-five miles west of Boston, the smell of coffee was starting to
drift through the cabin. Flight attendants were just beginning to prepare
the breakfasts of omelets, sausages, and fruit cups. Seated in business

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