The memo was written by FBI veteran Coleen Rowley, the FBI's chief lawyer in Minneapolis.
While Washington officials told the Minneapolis division to hold off examining Moussaoui's laptop and pursuing possible terrorist connections, Rowley told of repeated and futile attempts to get the cooperation of headquarters.
The 13 single-spaced pages were duplicated in an edited version on Time.com and excerpted in the magazine itself, explaining in detail the way the Minneapolis FBI crew were blocked.
She wrote to Mueller that had the investigation been allowed to proceed as requested, "it's at least possible we could have gotten lucky and uncovered one or two more of the terrorists in flight training prior to Sept. 11th, just as Moussaoui was discovered," the memo said.
FBI officials, she said, were "consistently, almost deliberately, thwarting the Minnesota FBI efforts."
The memo criticized Mueller for never publicly disclosing the Minneapolis suspicions of Massaoui while headquarters personnel "almost inexplicably" threw up "roadblocks" and attempted to "undermine Minneapolis' by now desperate efforts to obtain a ... search warrant, long after the French intelligence service provided its information and probable cause became clear."
In addition, FBI supervisors were allowed to make changes in affidavits filed from Minneapolis, a practice Rowley said was "fundamentally wrong.
"We faced the sad realization that the remarks indicated someone, possibly with your approval, had decided to circle the wagons," she wrote.
Crowley aimed some of her criticism directly at Mueller, writing, "I think you have also not been completely honest about some of the true reasons for the FBI's pre-Sept. 11th failures."
She wrote that she had never before written to an FBI director in her more than two decades as an FBI agent and asked for the protections afforded by federal "whistleblower" provisions.
"I feel that certain facts," she wrote, "have up to now been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mischaracterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI."
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