#911Truth WTFact #11: The 9/11 Commission
Did you miss the introduction to this year’s campaign?
If you think the 9/11 conspiracies theories are false, there are only two other choices, believe the 9/11 Commission report in part or in full. Both of those alternatives depend on the belief that the Commission represented the government’s best efforts to investigate and relay the evidence of the attacks. This post is simply about the false notion that the 9/11 attacks were “fully” investigated.
There is a reason that the actual fatal series of events on 9/11 is only 6% of the official report. Considering the study by the Center for Public Integrity which documented 935 false statements by Bush Administration officials related to Iraq possessing “weapons of mass destruction” and linking Hussein to Al Qaeda and 9/11, there was an environment in which lies were frequent in many parts of the government.
You can read a significant portion of the errors and omissions of the Commission report here.)
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A member of the 9/11 commission said Wednesday that panel members so distrusted testimony from Pentagon officials that they referred their concerns to the Pentagon’s inspector general.
The panel even considered taking the matter to the Justice Department for a possible criminal probe, commission member Tim Roemer said.
“We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting,” Roemer told CNN. “We were not sure of the intent, whether it was to deceive the commission or merely part of the fumbling bureaucracy.”
“Is the Bush White House trying to put the brakes on the congressional panel created last fall to investigate 9-11 attacks?” Time Magazine 2003
Sources tell TIME that the White House brushed off a request quietly made last week by the 9-11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean, the Republican former governor of New Jersey, to boost his budget by $11 million. Kean had sought the funding as part of the $75 billion supplemental spending bill that the president just requested to pay for war with Iraq. Bush’s recent move has miffed some members of the 9-11 panel.
Kean and former congressman Lee Hamilton, the panel’s top Democrat, requested additional funding in a letter to the administration last week. The money was to pay for a staff of about sixty and their resources. Kean plans to field a separate task force for each of nine areas that the law establishing the commission requires it to investigate. The panel has until the end of May 2004 to complete its work, but it will spend the $3 million it was originally allotted by around August 2003 — if it doesn’t get the supplement. “We hope that this request will be included in the supplemental appropriations proposal now being prepared by the administration,” wrote Kean and Hamilton in a March 19 letter to a CIA official who is in charge of intelligence community budgeting. The request has been endorsed by the entire bipartisan commission at a recent meeting. In denying the request, the White House irritated many of the members of the commission. “This is very counterproductive if the White House’s intention is to prevent the commission from being politicized, because it will look like they have something to hide,” said a Republican member of the commission.
The latest effort to curtail funding has angered victims of the attacks. Stephen Push, a leader of the 9/11 victims’ families, who are closely monitoring the commission, said the White House decision was another in a long line of efforts to water down or shrink the panel’s role. “I think the fact that they didn’t include it—didn’t warn Gov. Kean that they weren’t going to include it, didn’t return my phone call—suggests to me that they see this as a convenient way for allowing the commission to fail,” said Push. “They’ve never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon.” Push said the White House has ignored his phone calls and emails for weeks.
Commission member Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman, said the probe is off to a disturbingly slow start and that failure to quickly provide the funding increase wouldn’t help. “The White House should be strongly supporting that effort, given President Bush’s compelling statement when he signed this bill into law,” said Roemer, who last year served on the House-Senate joint inquiry on 9/11 that led to the creation of the commission. Roemer has gone so far as to draw comparisons with the $50 million provided to investigate the recent Columbia tragedy in which seven people died. “If we’re looking at well over $11 million for that, we certainly should be looking for at least the same vicinity of money for how 3,000 people died and how to strengthen our homeland security,” he said.
The slow start is particularly upsetting to some because the panel was given 18 months to complete its probe, and the clock has been ticking since November 27 but the commission has made scant progress in the four months since. Republican commissioner Slade Gorton, a former senator, told TIME that if the investigation needs more time, he’ll support seeking an extension. “If I think more important work can be done of course, we’ll ask for more time,” Gorton said. “We’re going to work with this deadline in mind.” Kean said that, even though the panel has lost “considerable time,” he adamantly opposes seeking an extension — unless “we simply couldn’t do our job” without one. “My belief is that we will not be doing that…. It’s not going to be easy and we’re going to be under the gun, but I think we can do it.” He added that a “two or three months’ delay would put us right in the middle of the election season, and that’s not when we want to report.”
There is also a 28 page section of the report which is still unreleased. That is prima facie evidence that the world doesn’t know the whole story. Ironically, the info deals with evidence of support networks and where the money and logistics help came from, a subject to be explored more by this campaign. Former Senator Bob Graham discusses this in 2011 article.
From the outset of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, it seemed implausible that the hijackers — most of whom spoke no English and had never been to the U.S. — could have executed the heinous plot on their own. The inquiry proved those suspicions justified, and a 28-page chapter in its report centered on sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States. That chapter remains censored, denied to the American people.
Sadly, those 28 pages represent only a fraction of the evidence of Saudi complicity that our government continues to shield from the public, under a flawed classification program which appears to be part of a systematic effort to protect Saudi Arabia from any real accountability for its actions. For example, after a nearly eight year delay, the CIA recently responded to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted on behalf of the 9/11 families in 2004, for reports and documents cited in the notes of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report. Unfortunately, when it came to documents such as a 16-page CIA report titled “Saudi Based Financial Support for Terrorist Organizations,” our own government redacted every word of substantive text.
Despite the carefully orchestrated campaign to protect our Saudi “friends,” ample evidence of Saudi Arabia’s intimate ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks has come to light. The executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Dr. Philip Zelikow, stated in 2007 that while at that time he did not feel the evidence established “Saudi government agents,” were involved “there is persuasive evidence of a possible support network…”
The information indicating there were networks, foreign sources of support within the United States other than al-Qaeda, and that those networks had the backing of Saudi Arabia, is today stronger than ever.
Here are some of the pieces of the puzzle. –> huffingtonpost.com 2011
There are a few quotes commonly seen in relation to 9/11 Commission members revealing the lies around the official story.
The co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission (Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton) said that the CIA (and likely the White House) “obstructed our investigation”.
The co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission also said that the 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials misrepresented the facts to the Commission, and the Commission considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements, yet didn’t bother to tell the American people (free subscription required).
Indeed, the co-chairs of the Commission now admit that the Commission largely operated based upon political considerations.
9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, that the 9/11 debate should continue, and that the 9/11 Commission report was only “the first draft” of history.
9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .”
9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”
Former 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”.
9/11 Commissioner John Lehman said that “We purposely put together a staff that had – in a way – conflicts of interest“.
The Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry, said “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.”
A 2006 Salon article covers a few of the Commission members that know they were lied to but aren’t sure what the lies amount to and dismiss conspiracy theories.
I asked Gorelick if she believed the commission had been sufficiently open to investigating the idea that the government, and not terrorists, was behind the attack. “I think it’s fair to say that our assumption going in was not that the World Trade Center was blown up by our own government,” she said, “but had the facts led us there we would not have hesitated to go there. And we ourselves blew up lots of myths — for example, that the 19 hijackers were undetectable, or that there was a relationship between 9/11 and Saddam.”
Slade Gorton, the former Republican senator and commission member, told me that the most serious threat to the commission’s work so far came not from conspiracy theorists but from Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Penn., who alleged that the commission ignored information that the classified military program Able Danger had identified Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 plotters before the attacks. Gorton and the other commissioners believed that the commission weathered that storm with its reputation intact.
Kerrey was dismissive of the conspiracy theories as well. Asked about the possibility of a controlled demolition at the World Trade Center, he scoffed, “There’s no evidence for that.” But he also noted that, quite apart from what Avery and others in the “truth movement” have proposed, many legitimate mysteries still surround the events of that day. “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version,” Kerrey said. The commission had limited time and limited resources to pursue its investigation, and its access to key documents and witnesses was fettered by the administration. “I didn’t read a single PDB,” Kerrey said, referring to the president’s daily intelligence briefing reports. “We didn’t have access to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,” the mastermind of the plot. “We accepted a compromise, submitting our questions to him through the CIA. Now, that’s not the best way to go about getting your questions answered. So I’m 100 percent certain that [bin Laden] directed that attack, but am I completely comfortable saying there was no direct Saudi involvement, or that Saddam Hussein wasn’t involved in some fashion, or that the Iranians weren’t involved? I’m pretty close to 100 percent certain, but I’d be more comfortable if we’d interviewed Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.”
A portion from 911proof.com sheds more light on the disparity.
But let’s back up and look at the 9/11 Commission in more detail. Preliminarily, President Bush and Vice-President Cheney took the rare step of personally requesting that congress limit all 9/11 investigation solely to “intelligence failures”, so there has never been a congressional probe into any of the real issues involved.
The administration also opposed the creation of a 9/11 commission. Once it was forced, by pressure from widows of 9-11 victims, to allow a commission to be formed, the administration appointed as executive director an administration insider, whose area of expertise is the creation and maintenance of “public myths” thought to be true, even if not actually true, who was involved in pre-9/11 intelligence briefings, and who was one of the key architects of the “pre-emptive war” doctrine. This executive director, who controlled what the Commission did and did not analyze, then limited the scope of the Commission’s inquiry so that the overwhelming majority of questions about 9/11 remained unasked (see this article and this article).
The administration then starved the commission of funds, providing a fraction of the funds used to investigate Monica Lewinsky, failed to provide crucial documents (and see this article also), refused to share much information with the Commission, refused to require high-level officials to testify under oath, and allowed Bush and Cheney to be questioned jointly.
More importantly, the 9-11 Commission refused to examine virtually any evidence which contradicted the administration’s official version of events. As stated by the State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, who was the point man for the U.S. government’s international counterterrorism policy in the first term of the Bush administration, “there were things the [9/11] commission[s] wanted to know about and things they didn’t want to know about.“
For example, the 9-11 Commission report fails to mention the CIA director’s urgent warnings to top administration officials in July 2001 of an impending attack (indeed, the 9-11 Commission was briefed on these warnings, but denied they knew about them until confronted with contrary evidence). Moreover, numerous veteran national security experts were turned away, ignored, or censored by the 9/11 commission, even though they had information directly relevant to the commission’s investigation. And the 9/11 Commission Report does not even mention the collapse of World Trade Center building 7 or any explosions in the buildings (the word “explosion” does not appear in the report). There are literally hundreds of other examples of entire lines of evidence which contradict the government’s account which were ignored by the Commission.
Indeed, the very 9-11 widows who had pressured the administration to create the 9/11 Commission now “question the veracity of the entire Commission’s report”, and have previously declared it a failure which ignored 70% of their detailed questions and “suppressed important evidence and whistleblower testimony that challenged the official story on many fronts”.
Moreover, the former head of the fire science and engineering division of the agency now investigating the world trade center disaster, who is a professor of fire protection engineering, wrote that the world trade center buildings could not have collapsed due to jet fuel fires, that evidence was being destroyed, and that there was no real investigation into the collapses. He has called for a new investigation.
And a leading firefighters’ trade publication called the investigation concerning the world trade center a “half-baked farce”. In addition, the official investigators themselves were largely denied funding, access to the site and the evidence contained there, or even access to such basic information as the blueprints for the world trade center.
Indeed, the blueprints for the world trade center are apparently STILL being withheld from reporters and the public, and the government agency in charge of the investigation has grossly mischaracterized the structure of the buildings.
And the government agency tasked with examining the collapse of the World Trade Centers did NOT investigate any anomalies in the collapse of the buildings, failing to even examine any of the following evidence: the buildings’ impossible near free-fall speeds and symmetrical collapses; the unexplained fact that the core of the North Tower failed first; the apparent demolition squibs; the fact that the buildings turned to dust in mid-air; the presence of molten metal in the basement areas in large pools in all of the buildings; the unexplained presence of unusual compounds in the steel; the unexplained swiss-cheese like holes in the steel; and the unexplained straightening out of the upper 34 floors of the South Tower after they had precipitously leaned over and started toppling like a tree.
Indeed, an article from a respected civil engineering trade journal states:
“World Trade Center disaster investigators are refusing to show computer visualizations [i.e. models] of the collapse of the Twin Towers despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers”.
The article goes on to state “a leading U.S. structural engineer said ‘By comparison [to the modeling of fires] the global structural model is not as sophisticated’ . . . The software used has been pushed to new limits, and there have been a lot of simplifications, extrapolations and judgement calls . . . it would be hard to produce a definitive visualization from the analysis so far.’”. In other words, the government refused to release a visual model of the collapses, and even the non-visual computer models which the government used to examine why the trade centers collapsed are faulty.
The same journal points out that “Some engineers . . . have accused NIST of repeatedly changing its explanation of the collapse mechanism.”
See also this question and answer exchange at a recent government press conference (skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds into the video). And this short video on building 7 and the subsequent investigation (you may wish to disregard brief partisan portion).
And did you know that investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House?
Or that a former FBI translator who Senators Leahy and Grassley, among others, have claimed is credible, and who the administration has gagged for years without any logical basis — has stated that “this administration knowingly and intentionally let many directly or indirectly involved in that terrorist act [September 11th] go free – untouched and uninvestigated”?
Or have you heard that the FBI long ago found and analyzed the “black box” recorders from the airplanes which hit the Twin Towers, but has consistently denied that they were ever found?
Or did you know that the tape of interviews of air traffic controllers on-duty on 9/11 was intentionally destroyed by crushing the cassette by hand, cutting the tape into little pieces, and then dropping the pieces in different trash cans around the building as shown by this NY Times article (summary version is free; full version is pay-per-view) and by this article from the Chicago Sun-Times?
And amazingly, many years after the FBI stated it did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute Bin Laden for 9/11, that agency apparently still does not have hard evidence linking Bin Laden to the crime. (Like we discussed in 36)
Still think the government really investigated and disclosed what happened on 9/11?
Indeed, there are even indications that false evidence may have been planted to deflect attention from the real perpetrators.
NEXT: But no high-level officials question the official story, right?
Read the 9/11 Commission memo detailing how 9/11 Commission witnesses were intimidated by government “minders”.
Both the leaders of 9/11 Commission and the Joint Intelligence Inquiry into 9/11 agreed the “minders” were problematic and “obstructed” the investigation. Staffers made it clear that intimidation by minders was widespread and had not only occurred with their team’s witnesses. The memo was discovered by an independent researcher in the National Archives.
The memo, entitled “Executive Branch Minders’ Intimidation of Witnesses,” states the following:
Minders “answer[ed] questions directed at witnesses;”
Minders acted as “monitors, reporting to their respective agencies on Commission staffs lines of inquiry and witnesses’ verbatim responses.” The staff thought this “conveys to witnesses that their superiors will review their statements and may engage in retribution;”
Minders’ notetaking “facilitates agencies in alerting future witnesses to the Commission’s lines of inquiry and permits agencies to prepare future witnesses either explicitly or implicitly.”
Minders “positioned themselves physically and have conducted themselves in a manner that we believe intimidates witnesses from giving full and candid responses to our questions.”
CLELAND: Because… but look at what’s happening. The Administration, the White House, has put several blocks in the road. One, they run all the information to the 9/11 Commission through a political coordinator in Ashcroft’s Justice Department. Duh. Why that?
Secondly, they want to put minders — that’s people who sit in the room when we have an interview with people in NSA, FBI, CIA, Department of… in DIA — in the Pentagon, and Immigration and Naturalization Services. They want to put minders in there. That to shut down information. That’s not to reveal information.
More on the Commission and conflicts of interest via 911research.wtc7.net
In the fall of 2002, the “National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” was established, partly in response to pressure from families of victims of the 9/11/01 attack.
Originally, President Bush appointed Henry Kissinger, famous for his role in cover-ups and widely considered a war criminal, as chairman of the Commission.
However, Kissinger soon stepped down in order to avoid answering questions about potential conflicts of interest, which would have required him to disclose secret clients.
Kissinger was replaced by former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean, and Lee H. Hamilton was selected as the vice chair. Thereafter the body became commonly known as the “Kean Commission” or the “9/11 Commission”.
Senator Max Cleland, who initially served on the Commission, was the only outspoken member.
He compared the Kean Commission to the Warren Commission:
The Warren Commission blew it.
I’m not going to be part of that.
I’m not going to be part of looking at information only partially.
I’m not going to be part of just coming to quick conclusions.
I’m not going to be part of political pressure to do this or not do that.
In November of 2003, President Bush appointed Cleland to a position on the board of the Export-Import Bank, prompting him to step down from the Commission.
He was replaced by probable war criminal Bob Kerrey.
As of May, 2004, the Commission consisted of the following members:
Thomas Kean (chair) director of oil giant Amerada Hess. business ties to Saudis Khalid bin Mahfouz. co-chairman of Homeland Security Project. CFR member. Lee H. Hamilton (vice chair) member of Homeland Security Advisory Council. former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and
House Select Intelligence Committee. chair of committee investigating Iran/Contra. CFR member.
Richard Ben-Veniste partner in the Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw law firm which represented Westfield Corporation and Westfield America — insurance beneficiaries
of the court-ordered multi-billion dollar payout for the World Trade Center destruction.
Bob Kerrey vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Intelligence.
Kerrey said in a 1999 Washington Post column that
the Vietnam war (which killed over 2 million civilians)
was a “just war.”
Fred F. Fielding worked for John Dean as White House counsel to Nixon —
“Deep Throat” of Watergate fame,
avoided prison time.
Jamie S. Gorelick current and former partner, along with Commission General Counsel Daniel Marcus, of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering, a law firm representing Prince Mohammed al Faisal against the August 2002 lawsuit by victims’ families against several Saudi princes and banks, and the Sudanese government. vice-chair of mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Former deputy to Janet Reno. CFR member. Slade Gorton served two years on the Senate Intelligence Committee. John F. Lehman former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan.
disgraced in a number of scandals, including Tailhook.
Timothy J. Roemer member of the House Intelligence Committee. James R. Thompson chairman of the large Chicago-based law firm Winston and Strawn, whose clients have included American Airlines, Boeing, and a number of WTC tenants. Philip Zelikow member of George W. Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board;
member of Bush-Cheney transition team.
This “9-11 Commissioner Group Photo” from the Commission’s website does not include Philip Zelikow,
who shaped the work of the Commission and the final Report.
Philip Zelikow: Calling the Shots
Chairs Kean and Hamilton served as the public face of the Commission.
Their conflicts of interest should be concern enough, but the real work of the Commission was in the hands of Philip Zelikow, a fact documented by David Ray Griffin, in his book devoted to exposing biases, omissions, and distortions in the Commission:
The 9/11 Commission Report; Omissions and Distortions.
… as executive director, Zelikow was in charge of the Commission’s staff, and it was these staff members — not the Commissioners we saw on television — who did most of the actual work of the Commission.
The Commissioners would have carried out their own distinctive work — their discussions and interviews — on the basis of the material provided by the staff.
Kean and Hamilton refer to this fact in their statement that the “professional staff, headed by Philip Zelikow, … conducted the exacting investigative work upon which the Commission has built” (xvi-xvii).
Griffin enumerates some of Zelikow’s many connections
to the Bush White House:
- Member of the National Security Council of the Bush I administration
- Aid to National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft under Bush I
- Co-Author of book with Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor for Bush II
- Director of Aspen Strategy Group, to which Rice, Scowcroft, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz belonged
- Member of Clinton to Bush II transition team
- Member of Bush II’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, until being appointed to 9/11 Commission
Because of the determinative role of Philip Zelikow in the Commission’s work, Griffin dubbed the Commission’s final report the “Kean-Zelikow Report.”
Washington’s Blog on Zelikow and influence
As everyone knows, Philip Zelikow, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, is an administration insider whose area of expertise is the creation and maintenance of “public myths” thought to be true, even if not actually true. We all know that he controlled what the Commission did and did not analyze, then limited the scope of the Commission’s inquiry so that the overwhelming majority of questions about 9/11 remained unasked (see this article and this article). Zelikow is arguably the single most responsible person in covering up the truth about 9/11.
Well, it turns out that Zelikow also wrote a hit piece against Pearl Harbor truth for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Washington’s Blog on Lehman, another PNAC conspirator.
But did you know that a 9/11 Commissioner recently said that all of the 9/11 Commission staff had a conflict of interest?
Specifically, 9/11 Commissioner and former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman just said on NBC Nightly news:
“We purposely put together a staff that had – in a way – conflicts of interest” (3:48 into video)
He went on to say:
“All of the staff had, to a certain extent, some conflict of interest” (4:09 into video)
This is important because many people have assumed that — even if Zelikow and the Commissioners had conflicts of interest — the staff would at least do a thorough and unbiased job in investigating what happened on 9/11. We now know this is not true.
Indeed, Lehman strongly implies that the Commission was purposely set up so that every single person involved would have a conflict of interest which would prevent them from conducting an honest investigation.
Lehman himself is a textbook example of conflict of interest. In 1998, 9/11 Commission executive director Zelikow published an article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, entitled Catastrophic Terrorism: Imagining the Transformative Event. Some two years later, PNAC picked up the Zelikow language, saying that the campaign to convince the public to allow expanded use of U.S. military force around the world “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor”. Lehman was a member of PNAC, and a signatory to PNAC’s plea for “a new Pearl Harbor”. See this video and this essay.
Former Georgia Senator Max Cleland on the lies and corruption that made him walk away from the 9/11 Commission
Democracy Now (2004)
To talk about the commission, we are joined by one of its former members, former Georgia senator Max Cleland. After his appointment to the commission in 2002, Cleland became the chief critic of the White House stonewalling over releasing documents and lack of cooperation.
In October last year, Cleland said the Bush administration was purposely stalling the investigation because of the 2004 election. Cleland said, “As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted.”
In November, after the White House set conditions for the examination of documents Cleland said, “If this decision stands, I, as a member of the commission, cannot look any American in the eye, especially family members of victims, and say the commission had full access. This investigation is now compromised.”
In December 2003, Cleland stepped down from the commission to become a member of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Max Cleland, former Georgia senator. In 2002, he was appointed to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. In December 2003, he stepped down from the commission to become a member of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We welcome former senator Max Cleland to Democracy Now!
MAX CLELAND: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Good to have you with us. Can you talk about the hearings and why you feel that the 9-11 commission that you served on has been compromised?
MAX CLELAND: Well, first of all, let’s look at what Richard Clarke has said. That’s the man in the White House serving four Presidents, three Republicans and one Democrat, the man responsible for monitoring terrorist activity and threats to the United States. He has come out with a scathing indictment of President Bush, saying he has handled the problem terribly because he had an obsession, basically, he and his top advisers, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, with Iraq. Not an obsession with Osama bin Laden and the terrorist cadre that was increasingly being formed in the 1990’s that is responsible, we now know, for the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors, or an increasing number of attacks and then ultimately the attack on 9-11. And yet this administration has chosen to focus on Iraq, not al Qaeda. Why? I think that is why the 9-11 commission has been dissed because if you really go into it, you really go into 9-11. You realize that this government had more information at its disposal and, in many ways, failed to understand the threat from al Qaeda, or discounted people like George Tenet who, from 1998 on, said that we were at war with al Qaeda. So, what happens here is that the real information that we did have from the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. about al Qaeda was relatively dissed and then Cheney and others went to the C.I.A. and said, look, give us the information that we really want. Richard Clarke recounts in his book that the 12th of September, after Condoleezza Rice had put Richard Clarke in charge of the emergency response in the situation room. The next day Richard Clarke goes in the situation room and they’re all talking about Iraq, not al Qaeda. Why is that? Why would the President continue to insist without any shred of evidence to connect Saddam Hussein with this attack? And why would Rumsfeld, on the day of the attacks, September 11, as revealed by Bob Woodward’s book “Bush at War” published two years ago, in his handwritten notes, say put it all together, tie it all together? Because they had a predisposition back to 1992 to go to war with Iraq. Why? Because I think the Neocons, the Right-wing in America, felt that president Bush I got beaten primarily because he didn’t take out Saddam Hussein because — so that became the real litmus test for foreign policy for the Neocons and for the Right wing. And once Bush got elected and Cheney was Vice President and Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense and Wolfowitz was the number two in the Department of Defense, the Cheney-Wolfowitz plan dating from 1992, to take out Saddam Hussein became the operative foreign policy agenda. Item number one. We now know from secretary O’Neill, a Republican, who was Treasury Secretary under George Bush for a while, that within 10 days of the inauguration of President Bush, he was talking about invading Iraq. So, now if we really examine 9-11, we find that this administration, President Bush, has used 9-11 and the tragedy to this country and to the families in this country, the over 3,000 people who were lost, used that as an excuse to go after Saddam Hussein, not a reason to create the war in Iraq. So, they created a war that they were already predisposed to do and 9-11 gave them the excuse. That is why Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. That is why Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cadre are still blowing up people by the hundreds most recently in Spain, which changed that government and now Spain is withdrawing from Iraq.
I mean, we have a killer and killer organization on the loose and this President has chosen another course to pursue because of his own predilections to I guess avenge his father or follow the Neocon path that Saddam Hussein was the real enemy. The real enemy is Al Qaeda and that’s what the 9-11 commission will increasingly find in testimony and they will increasingly find that this government had more information about Al Qaeda from the FBI, dating back to 1994 that planes were planned to be used to hit major targets like big buildings. And if you follow the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Al Qaeda in many ways was behind that and why — why — they didn’t take their eye off the ball.
But this administration took its eye off the ball and, with a war in Iraq, has got our cream of American forces now bogged down there. We’re losing two soldiers a day and I think it is a disaster.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia. Max Cleland also served on the 9-11 commission. A pair of public interest groups, the 9-11 Family Steering Committee and the 9-11 Citizens Watch have called for the resignation of the Director of the Independent 9-11 Commission, Phillip Zelikow. It turns out that in Richard Clarke’s book, he reveals how Zelikow participated in Bush administration briefings on Al Qaeda prior to 9-11-and they’re saying that this compromises him, since the mandate of the commission was to investigate the source of failures. It is now apparent why they said there has been so little effort to assign individual culpability. We can now see that trail would lead to the staff Director himself. Your response.
MAX CLELAND: That’s not the staff director’s fault, it is the White House’s fault. It’s president Bush’s fault. President Bush personally has nixed the effort of the 9-11 Commission to get all the documents in the White House, especially the Presidential daily briefs, which basically tell the Commission and the American people what the President knew and when he knew it in regards to the potential attack on 9-11 and the attack itself and the follow-up. He has personally nixed that information coming to 9-11. That means to me that all of the members of that commission will never get to see the real documents that I think are sensitive. The President, as I think John Kerry mentioned, had time to go to rodeo, but didn’t have time to appear fully before the 9-11 commission.
Truth of the matter is, the White House has played cover-up and a slow walk to this game from the beginning. Now after sewing to the wind, they’re reaping the whirl wind. Now what they’ve done is forced the Congress to extend the 9-11 Commission two more months, which kicks the final report in July right before the Democratic National Convention. That’s not the Democrats’ fault. That’s not the 9-11 Commission’s fault. That is the fault of the White House, to slow up this thing and it never even held any public hearing for six months.
AMY GOODMAN: Now Senator Cleland, we should say that you are actively campaigning for Senator Kerry.
MAX CLELAND: I am.
AMY GOODMAN: On the issue of being a Commissioner, for the periods you served on the 9-11 Commission, what access to documents did you have?
MAX CLELAND: Well, first of all, not much. While I was there, through December of last year, and I was on the commission from December 15 of the previous year, 2002, to December of this past year, for a year. I was there for a whole year. I was ready to go to work December 15.
AMY GOODMAN: You have 10 seconds.
MAX CLELAND: The commission had to subpoena the F.A.A. for documents, had to subpoena NORAD for documents and they will never get the full story. That is one of the tragedies. One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, former Georgia Senator, and former member of the 9-11 Commission, Max Cleland. That does it for the show. Tomorrow, we bring you highlights of today’s 9-11 hearings.
He wavers back and forth between cover-up and the commission being on the up and up…
Lee Hamilton confronted
Commission ignores first responder eyewitness accounts
Condoleezza Rice reveals Afghanistan war lies in front of Commission
CIA’s George Tenet lies
Details of why the Commission Report is questioned
March 16, 2013
The 9/11 Commission: A Victim of Cheney’s Torture Program
Preface: This is not a partisan post. We have repeatedly documented that Obama is as bad or worsethan the Bush administration.
In the run up to the Iraq war – and for several years thereafter – the program of torture carried out by the Bush administration was specifically specifically aimed at establishing a false justification for war. Dick Cheney is the guy who pushed for torture, pressured the Justice Department lawyers to write memos saying torture was legal, and made the pitch to Congress justifying torture. (The former director of the CIA said Cheney oversaw American torture policies).
The type of torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects is of a special type. Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used Communist torture techniques specifically aimed at creating falseconfessions (see this, this, this and this).
According to NBC News:
- Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
- At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
- One of the Commission’s main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was not even allowed to read
- The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves
In fact, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accounts of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees.
As the 9/11 Commission Report itself states:
Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. A number of these “detainees” have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 plot. Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses-sworn enemies of the United States-is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting.
In other words, the 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand.
The Commission didn’t really trust the interrogation testimony. For example, one of the primary architects of the 9/11 Commission Report – Ernest May – said in May 2005:
We never had full confidence in the interrogation reports as historical sources.
New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon Newsweek noted in a 2009 essay in Newsweek that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees:
The commission appears to have ignored obvious clues throughout 2003 and 2004 that its account of the 9/11 plot and Al Qaeda’s history relied heavily on information obtained from detainees who had been subjected to torture, or something not far from it.
The panel raised no public protest over the CIA’s interrogation methods, even though news reports at the time suggested how brutal those methods were. In fact, the commission demanded that the CIA carry out new rounds of interrogations in 2004 to get answers to its questions.
That has troubling implications for the credibility of the commission’s final report. In intelligence circles, testimony obtained through torture is typically discredited; research shows that people will say anything under threat of intense physical pain. [That’s what top military interrogators say.]
And yet it is a distinct possibility that Al Qaeda suspects who were the exclusive source of information for long passages of the commission’s report may have been subjected to “enhanced” interrogation techniques, or at least threatened with them, because of the 9/11 Commission….
Information from CIA interrogations of two of the three—KSM and Abu Zubaydah—is cited throughout two key chapters of the panel’s report focusing on the planning and execution of the attacks and on the history of Al Qaeda. [Remember the names “KSM” and “Abu Zubaydah” – we’ll get back to them below.]
Footnotes in the panel’s report indicate when information was obtained from detainees interrogated by the CIA. An analysis by NBC News found that more than a quarter of the report’s footnotes—441 of some 1,700—referred to detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program, including the trio who were waterboarded.
Commission members note that they repeatedly pressed the Bush White House and CIA for direct access to the detainees, but the administration refused. So the commission forwarded questions to the CIA, whose interrogators posed them on the panel’s behalf.
The commission’s report gave no hint that harsh interrogation methods were used in gathering information, stating that the panel had “no control” over how the CIA did its job; the authors also said they had attempted to corroborate the information “with documents and statements of others.”
But how could the commission corroborate information known only to a handful of people in a shadowy terrorist network, most of whom were either dead or still at large?
Former senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat on the commission [one of the 9/11 Commissioners], told me last year he had long feared that the investigation depended too heavily on the accounts of Al Qaeda detainees who were physically coerced into talking. …
The Washington Post documents that Abu Zubaydah was literally crazy – as he head suffered a serious head injury years before 9/11 – and that the FBI agent involved in interrogating Abu Zubaydah and reviewing documents at his house (Daniel Coleman) said that everyone knew that Abu Zubaydah was an unreliable source for information.
“This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”
Indeed, the government has since backed away from all claims that Abu Zubaydah had any role in Al Qaeda or 9/11. For example – in September 2009 – the U.S. government admitted in writing in a court proceeding that Abu Zubaydah had never been a member or associate or supporter of al-Qaeda, was not involved in 9/11, and had no prior knowledge of 9/11:
The Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner [Abu Zubaydah] was a member of al-Qaida or otherwise formally identified with al-Qaida.
Respondent [The United States Government] does not contend that Petitioner was a “member” of al-Qaida in the sense of having sworn a bayat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either Petitioner or al-Qaida may have considered necessary for inclusion in al-Qaida. Nor is the Government detaining Petitioner based on any allegation that Petitioner views himself as part of al-Qaida as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology, or worldview.
The Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner had any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Government has not contended that Petitioner had any personal involvement in planning or executing either the 1998 embassy bombings… or the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Kevin Ryan – who has interviewed 9/11 Commissioner Lee Hamilton, Abu Zubaydah’s attorney and other knowledgeable people – documents how central Abu Zubaydah is to the 9/11 Commission Report(footnotes omitted; see original for documentation)
The 9/11 Commission (falsely) called Zubaydah an “al Qaeda lieutenant.” The Joint Congressional inquiry did the same, calling him “al-Qa’ida leader Abu Zubaydah,” and the “Bin Ladin lieutenant captured in March 2002.” As late as 2006, the Justice Department’s Inspector General report on the 9/11 attacks called Zubaydah a “Bin Laden lieutenant.”
When Zubaydah was captured, in March 2002, U.S. government officials touted him asthe biggest catch of the War on Terror, at least until the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM). FBI Director Robert Mueller stated that Zubaydah’s capture wouldhelp deter future attacks. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Zubaydah could provide a treasure-trove of information about al-Qaeda. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed that Zubaydah was “a man who knows of additional attacks”, who has “trained people to do this”, and was a big fish who had a fountain of knowledge.
The extensive allegations against Zubaydah went on and on, and included that he was:
- along with KSM, one of “Al Qaeda’s top operational managers” – “Counterterrorism Czar”Richard Clarke, in his book Against All Enemies
- “sinister” and “there is evidence that he is a planner and a manager as well. I think he’s a major player.” – Former State Department director of counter-terrorism, Michael Sheehan
- “extremely dangerous” and a planner of 9/11. – State Department legal advisor John B. Bellinger III in a June 2007 briefing.
- a trainer, a recruiter, understood bomb-making, was a forger, a logistician, and someone who made things happen, and made “al-Qaeda function.” – Former CIA station chief, Bob Grenier
- “a close associate of UBL’s [i.e. Bin Laden], and if not the number two, very close to the number two person in the organization. I think that’s well established.” -Donald Rumsfeld
- “a very senior al Qaeda official who has been intimately involved in a range of activities for the al Qaeda.” – Donald Rumsfeld
- a “very senior al Qaeda operative.” – Donald Rumsfeld
- a “key terrorist recruiter and operational planner and member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
- someone whose capture was a “very serious blow” to al-Qaeda and therefore one of al-Qaeda’s “many tentacles” was “cut off.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
- “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.” –President George W. Bush
- “one of al-Qaeda’s top leaders” who was “spending a lot of time as one of the top operating officials of al Qaeda, plotting and planning murder.” –President George W. Bush
- “al Qaeda’s chief of operations.” – President George W. Bush
- “one of the top three leaders” in al-Qaeda. – President George W. Bush
- someone whose interrogation “led to reliable information”, a “prolific producer” of information, with whom originated roughly 25 percent of the information on al Qaeda that came from human sources. – [National Security Agency Director] Michael Hayden
- one of three individuals “best positioned to know about impending terrorist atrocities.” – Michael Hayden
As the myth of Zubaydah grew, it was reported that he was –
- “worth a ton of guys at Gitmo.”
- a “senior bin Laden official” and the “former head of Egypt-based Islamic Jihad.”
- “played a key role in the East Africa embassy attacks.”
- listed as a “trusted aide” to bin Laden with “growing power.”
- in control of al-Qaeda.
- an aide of bin Laden who ran training camps in Afghanistan and “coordinated terror cells in Europe and North America.”
- a “key terrorist recruiter, operational planner, and member of Osama Bin Laden’s inner circle.”
- “bin Laden’s CEO”, and “a central figure in Al Qaeda”
- Bin Laden’s “travel planner.”
- “one of a handful of men entrusted with running the terrorism network in the event of Osama bin Laden’s death or capture.”
- a senior bin Laden lieutenant who was believed “to be organizing al Qaida resources to carry out attacks on American targets.”
- the fourth ranking member of al Qaeda behind Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Muhamed Atef.
- someone who knew the identities of “thousands” of terrorists that passed through al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan
- a colleague of Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber.
- one of bin Laden’s top planners of terrorist operations who knew of al Qaeda plots and cells.
- the “connection between bin Laden and many of al-Qaida’s operational cells.”
- the source of information that UAL Flight 93 was intended to hit the White House.
Because we now know that Zubaydah was never an al Qaeda operative, or even an al Qaeda associate, we are forced into the stunning realization that all of this was false. The questions that should arise from that realization include: How much of what we know about al Qaeda, and how much of the War on Terror, was built on the torture testimony of a man who clearly could not have known anything about al Qaeda at all? [We’ve already documented that Cheney, Rumsfeld and the boys are guilty of war crimes for falsely using 9/11 as a justification for the Iraq war, and noted that Cheney admits that he lied about 9/11.]
But as we know now, the CIA reportedly told Abu Zubaydah during his interrogation that they discovered he was not an al-Qaeda fighter, partner, or even a member. Still, KSM and Bin Alshibh were caught and tortured too.
Given the apparent “mistakes” related to Zubaydah being represented as an al Qaeda leader, there appears to be some serious revision required in the official account of 9/11. However, realistically, at this late date the information attributed to Zubaydah cannot likely be untangled from the official myth behind the War on Terror and the associated actions of the U.S. government. That’s because the torture of Zubaydah was used in support of unprecedented policy changes and actions.
- President Bush personally used the perceived value of Zubaydah’s capture and torture to justify the use of the CIA’s torture techniques as well as the detention of suspects in secret CIA prisons around the world.
- The U.S. government used the questionable intelligence obtained from Zubaydah in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Officials stated that the allegations that Iraq and al-Qaeda were linked through training people on the use of chemical weapons came from Zubaydah. There was no independent verification of these claims.
- Zubaydah’s torture testimony was also used to justify the use of military tribunals, moving the trial of alleged al Qaeda suspects out of the open civil courts. President Bush asked Congress in a speech in September 2006 to formulate special rules in order to try Abu Zubaydah via military commission in Guantanamo Bay. In fact, in late April 2002 less than one month after Abu Zubaydah’s capture, Justice Department officials stated Abu Zubaydah “is a near-ideal candidate for a tribunal trial.” Ironically, Zubaydah may be the only leading suspect to never face trial.
- In addition to justifying the use of illegal torture techniques, the Bush administrationused Zubaydah’s capture as justification to accelerate its domestic spying program. The claim was that it would allow quick action on the phone numbers and addresses seized during Zubaydah’s capture.
How can the 9/11 Commission Report stand when one of the main sources for information was crazy, was tortured with a specific technique aimed at extracting false confessions, was never allowed to speak (first or second-hand) to the Commissioners, and was not even affiliated with Al Qaeda or 9/11?
The Other Main Source of Information Was Also Unreliable
The other main source for the Commission – KSM – the self-confessed “mastermind” of 9/11, also confessed to crimes which he could not have committed.
He later said that he gave the interrogators a lot of false information – telling them what he thought they wanted to hear – in an attempt to stop the torture. We also know that he was heavily torturedspecifically for the purpose of trying to obtain false information about 9/11 – specifically, that Iraq had something to do with it.
So the two main sources for the 9/11 Commission investigation were wholly unreliable.
Government Cover-Up of Unreliability of Witnesses
Moreover, certain government personnel went to great lengths to cover up how unreliable the information was.
For example, the CIA videotaped the interrogation of 9/11 suspects, falsely told the 9/11 Commission that there were no videotapes or other records of the interrogations, and then illegally destroyed all of the tapes and transcripts of the interrogations.
9/11 Commission co-chairs Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton wrote:
Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.
The chief lawyer for Guantanamo litigation – Vijay Padmanabhan – said that torture of 9/11 suspects was widespread. And Susan J. Crawford – the senior Pentagon official overseeing the military commissions at Guantánamo – told Bob Woodward:
We tortured Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture.
Indeed, 90 of the 92 videotapes that the CIA destroyed related to Abu Zubaydah.