Wednesday, August 10, 2005

 

9/11 Commission Lied

Is the 9/11 Commission Report a cover-up?

After initially denying it...
"The 9/11 commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohamed Atta or of his cell," said (Commission co-Chairman Lee) Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. "Had we learned of it, obviously it would've been a major focus of our investigation."
...the 9/11 Commission now acknowledges being briefed about Able Danger. Captain Ed:
What does that mean for the Commission's findings? It meant that the cornerstone of their conclusions no longer fit the facts. Able Danger showed that the US had enough intelligence to take action -- if the government had allowed law enforcement and intelligence operations to cooperate with each other. It also showed that data mining could effectively identify terrorist agents.

So what did the Commission do? It ignored those facts which did not fit within its predetermined conclusions. It never bothered to mention Able Danger even one time in its final report, even though that absolutely refuted the notion that the government had no awareness that Atta constituted a terrorist threat. It endorsed the idea of data mining (which would die in Congress as the Total Information Awareness program) without ever explaining why. And while the Clinton policy of enforcing a quarantine between law enforcement and intelligence operations came under general criticism, their report never included the fact that the "wall" for which Commission member Jamie S. Gorelick had so much responsibility specifically contributed to Atta's ability to come and go as he pleased, building the teams that would kill almost 3,000 Americans.

And when confronted with this revelation this week, the Commission lied about their knowledge of the program and attempted to impugn Rep. Curt Weldon's integrity instead.
In a May 3, 2004 editorial, The Wall Street Journal accused the 9/11 Commission of ignoring other information regarding the significance of this "wall" to protect one of its own:
Because what John Ashcroft and his team have revealed about the wall is by far the most important thing to come out of the hearings so far. So long as the 9/11 Commissioners are refusing to probe this matter further for fear of damaging a colleague, someone has to look out for the public's right to know.

Readers will recall that in his testimony Attorney General Ashcroft declassified a March 1995 memo written by 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick--then Deputy Attorney General--instructing federal prosecutors and the FBI director to go "beyond what the law requires" in limiting their cooperation. Ms. Gorelick has since responded that she played only a subordinate role in setting this policy, and was only implementing settled law in any case. But the newly released memos appear to contradict Ms. Gorelick on both counts, further strengthening the case for having her resolve the issue in testimony and under oath.

A key piece of evidence is a June 13, 1995 memo to Attorney General Janet Reno from Mary Jo White, then U.S. Attorney and lead World Trade Center bombing prosecutor, and a recipient of the March memo Mr. Ashcroft referenced: "You have also asked whether I am generally comfortable with the instructions. It is hard to be totally comfortable with instructions to the FBI prohibiting contact with the United States Attorney's Offices when such prohibitions are not legally required."

Ms. White added: "Our experience has been that the FBI labels of an investigation as intelligence or law enforcement can be quite arbitrary depending upon the personnel involved and that the most effective way to combat terrorism is with as few labels and walls as possible so that wherever permissible, the right and left hands are communicating" (emphases added by WSJ).

Then Ms. White asked for a number of changes to the proposed guidelines, most of which Gorelick subordinate Michael Vatis recommends rejecting in a June 19 memo to Ms. Reno. That memo is accompanied by a handwritten note from Ms. Gorelick saying that she concurs.

Or to sum up the exchange: The principal U.S. terrorism prosecutor was trying to tell her boss that she foresaw a real problem with the new and "not legally required" wall policy, but Ms. Reno--again delegating that policy to Ms. Gorelick--largely rebuffed her concerns.

Commission Chairman Tom Kean has thus far been a staunch defender of Ms. Gorelick's refusal to testify. Perhaps he can explain how all of the above squares with Ms. Gorelick's recent remarks on CNN that "The wall was a creature of statute. It's existed since the mid-1980s. And while it's too lengthy to go into, basically the policy that was put out in the mid-'90s, which I didn't sign, wasn't my policy by the way, it was the Attorney General's policy . . ."

We've never expected much from this Commission, but the stonewalling is getting ridiculous. Everyone knows the wall contributed to serious pre-9/11 lapses, such as the FBI's failure to search "20th Hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui's hard drive following his arrest on immigration violations in August 2001. Yet the Commissioners are treating reasonable requests that they explore the wall fully as some sort of affront.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald summed up the core issue last October in testimony to Congress: "I was on a prosecution team in New York that began a criminal investigation of Osama bin Laden in early 1996. . . . We could talk to local police officers. We could talk to other U.S. government agencies. We could talk to foreign police officers. Even foreign intelligence personnel. . . . But there was one group of people we were not permitted to talk to. Who? The FBI agents across the street from us in lower Manhattan assigned to a parallel intelligence investigation of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. We could not learn what information they had gathered. That was 'the wall.' "

That's also what the 9/11 Commissioners now seem determined to ignore. How long will they continue protecting their colleague at the cost of their own credibility?
Until they could no longer get away with it, apparently. Not surprising, considering the Clinton Administration is involved and the permanent campaign has morphed into the permanent cover up.

AJStrata has much more, including a timeline of events. He ponders several unanswered questions raised by this revelation concerning actions taken by the Clinton Administration. (Including Sandy Berger's curious destruction of classified doccuments; his plea deal seems even more outrageous now.) The most important questions were raised by Rep Curt Weldon in a June 27th floor speech:
But I learned something new, Mr. Speaker, over the past several weeks and months. I have talked to some of the military intelligence officers who produced this document, who worked on this effort. And I found something out very startling, Mr. Speaker. Not only did our military identify the Mohammed Atta cell; our military made a recommendation in September of 2000 to bring the FBI in to take out that cell, the cell of Mohammed Atta. So now, Mr. Speaker, for the first time I can tell our colleagues that one of our agencies not only identified the New York cell of Mohammed Atta and two of the terrorists, but actually made a recommendation to bring the FBI in to take out that cell. And they made that recommendation because Madeleine Albright had declared that al Qaeda, an international terrorist organization, and the military units involved here felt they had jurisdiction to go to the FBI.

Why, then, did they not proceed? That is a question that needs to be answered, Mr. Speaker. I have to ask, Mr. Speaker, with all the good work that the 9/11 Commission did, why is there nothing in their report about able danger? Why is there no mention of the work that able danger did against al Qaeda? Why is there no mention, Mr. Speaker, of a recommendation in September of 2000 to take out Mohammed Atta’s cell which would have detained three of the terrorists who struck us?
(Emphasis mine)

Captain Ed:
Someone needs to answer questions, in front of Congress this time and not some pass-the-buck commission that tried to bury Able Danger the first time. Who made the decision to bury Able Danger? Why?
Indeed. We need a full accounting of this mess - no more Clintonian shenanigans. Congress needs to get to the bottom of this. Now.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty comments:
But the "Able Danger" revelations, if true, seem to change things a lot. First, it helps explain why we haven't been hit again in the homeland since 9/11, aside from the mysterious anthrax mailings. (Knocking on wood, crossing fingers, and thanking God).

Terrorists are not supermen. They're ruthless, but it's hard to escape the collective eyes of the FBI, CIA, NSA, that other NRO, the Secret Service, the beat cop, and in this case of Atta and the gang, military intelligence. When our good guys in uniforms and badges start looking, they can find them. There's no wall now, and any punk seeking to hit the U.S. homeland has to avoid a lot of eyes and ears, who can now, finally, coordinate.

The "Able Danger" revelation suggests that "the wall" was a suicide pact. That there was no point in anyone but the FBI doing counterterrorism work, because no one could communicate the information to anyone who could actually act on it. The policy, put in place by Gorelick, put a higher priority on ensuring legally-viable prosecutions than actually catching them before they act.

*sigh* I don't want guys like Mohammed Atta prosecuted. I want them nabbed off the street and subjected to every form of interrogation that the writers of "24" can think of.

And as for the 9/11 Commission, after all that patting themselves on the back, all that gushing praise from left, right, and center, after their work was called "miraculous" by Newsday, and the nomination for a National Book Award, and calling their own work "extraordinary"... man, these guys stink. Really, if this checks out, and the staffers had information like this and they disregarded it, never believing that we in the public deserved to know that the plot's ringleader was identified, located and recommended to be arrested a year before the attacks... boy, these guys ought to be in stocks in the public square and have rotten fruit thrown at them. What a sham.

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