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August 11, 2005

The Farce Continues...

How many times have I said the 9/11 Commission is a pointless farce? The only thing committee members like the aptly-named Dick Ben-Veniste have proved themselves eminently capable of, to date, is pompous statements of blithering idiocy:

In a move that stunned lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the 9/11 commission affixed ultimate responsibility for the September 11th terrorist attacks on none other than Jehovah, the Lord God of Hosts. Otherwise known as God, Allah, Buddha, The Almighty, The Man Upstairs, or The Big Guy, Jehovah could not be reached for comment. His publicist is expected to release a statement shortly.

Committee member Richard Ben-Veniste remarked: “Clearly, this ‘God’ has a lot to answer for. This commission is determined to trace accountability to the highest offices. For three years the American public has waited for Him to admit that mistakes were made. God owes the 9/11 families a public apology. This commission will make sure they get it.”

Now that they are out of the limelight, the telegenic team members are busily trying to find ways to reassert their relevance:

Members of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks called on Congress to determine whether the Pentagon withheld intelligence information showing that a secret American military unit had identified Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as potential threats more than a year before the attacks. The former commission members said the information, if true, could rewrite an important chapter of the history of the intelligence failures before Sept. 11, 2001.

"I think this is a big deal," said John F. Lehman, a Republican member of the commission who was Navy secretary in the Reagan administration. "The issue is whether there was in fact surveillance before 9/11 of Atta and, if so, why weren't we told about it? Who made the decision not to brief the commission's staff or the commissioners?"

According to the Times' source, however, he did explicitly brief the Commission on the existence of the Able Danger program and its identification of Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as al-Qaeda operatives, as mentioned yesterday:
The former intelligence official said he was among a group that briefed the former staff director of the Sept. 11 panel, Philip D. Zelikow, and at least three other staff members about Able Danger when the staff members visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in October 2003. The official said that he had explicitly mentioned Mr. Atta in the briefing as a member of the American terrorist cell.

Just to refresh your collective memories, this is a commission that could find no conflict of interest in allowing Jamie Gorelick to sit on the committee. None.

I was never in favor of assigning blame for 9/11. Any idiot knows why it happened. The Senate eviscerated our intelligence services starting with the Church commission due to some real abuses and a whole lot of liberal paranoia (some of it justified, mind you). The Clinton administration declined to respond to the 1993 WTC attack and (some say) ignored evidence of Iraqi involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing.

More on the Iraq/Oklahoma connection from the Wall Street Journal.

We could have killed bin Laden during the Clinton years, but according to the 9/11 commission report, Clinton wanted him captured alive and so it all came to nothing. Funny how Joseph Wilson's and Richard Clarke's false accusations are trumpeted daily in the MSM, but we hear not a whit about that little gem.

But that was a different world and it's water under the bridge. The important question has always been: what are we going to do going forward?

The answer? Nothing. Because we lack the national will. We fear our own police, military, Justice Department, and FBI more than al Qaeda. Which, in a nutshell, is why 9/11 happened in the first place. And we didn't really need a fancy commission to tell us that, did we?

[The Patriot Act] “has to do with things that really were quite necessary in the wake of what happened on Sept. 11.” - John F. Kerry
We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night. So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time. John F. Kerry

John Edwards on Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: When you go before a Democratic audience and say, The notion they're going to libraries to find out what books are being read or bookstores, what books are being purchased--the Justice Department actually was asked whether that had ever been done, and here's the response. The Justice Department, which has repeatedly been accused of encroaching on civil liberties in its war on terrorism, has never actually used a controversial provision of the act that allows it to seek records from libraries, according to a confidential memo from Ashcroft... The number of times the provision's been used to date is zero. So it's wrong for you to say that that's being done.

SEN. EDWARDS: No. I think that--well, first of all, I have no way of knowing everything that the Justice Department is doing. What I do know is that based on testimony they provided to Congress, they have been--and I think I'm using something close to their language--they have been in touch with libraries and bookstores around the country. Now, what provision they were using to do that, whether it was the Patriot Act or something else, I have no way of knowing. But what I do know, is when the United States Justice Department is contacting libraries and bookstores, it has an enormous chilling effect. And that’s what my concern is about this provision in the Patriot Act. I still believe it needs to be changed.

MR. RUSSERT: Some Democrats have a different view: Joe Biden of Delaware called criticism of the Patriot Act. Dianne Feinstein, (Democrat, California), mounted a strong defense of the Patriot Act, saying she believes that there is substantial uncertainty and perhaps some ignorance about what this bill actually does do and how it's employed. ...I have never had a single abuse of the Patriot Act reported to me. Have you?

SEN. EDWARDS: To me, personally? No.

Is it cold in here? Because I feel a chill wind.

Update: ...and it just got colder:

From Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), who was obviously lying when he and one of the intelligence team members claimed the Able Danger information was provided to the 9/11 Commission yet was inexplicably omitted from the final report:

So prior to 9/11, this military system that the CIA said we did not need and could not do actually gave us the information that identified Mohammed Atta's cell in New York. And with Mohammed Atta they identified two of the other terrorists with them.

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?

Update: lawhawk is asking some very interesting questions (I like that)

Michelle has an outstanding post and roundup (she went and linked to me while I was on the phone with a client). One-stop shopping if you're pressed for time on this story.

The Anchoress is all over Sandy Burglar.

Sadly, in the end all this amounts to is more partisan tail-chasing.

The salient facts have not changed. Pre-9/11, we had limits in place on the gathering of domestic intel for what seemed (at the time) like good reasons. Though there were ample prior warnings which we ignored, 9/11 finally succeeded in getting our attention.

Three thousand dead civilians have an amazing way of focusing the national consciousness, if only momentarily.

Within mere months, our collective national amnesia resumed. Since that day, we seem more interested in fighting each other than defeating the terrorists. And we still don't understand the nature of what we're facing.

The question isn't, "Why do they hate us?". It's "Why are they laughing at us?".

Posted by Cassandra at August 11, 2005 07:28 AM

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I was listening to the news before work this morning, and they were talking about "Able Danger". From what I... [Read More]

Tracked on August 11, 2005 01:23 PM

The 9/11 Commission was supposed to give the America people a complete, unbiased story of the government failures that led up to the September 11 terrorist attacks. But the Commission now admits its acclaimed Final Report ignored key information provid... [Read More]

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If you read the later NYT articles on the subject, Weldon's account gets fleshed out more, and that the Commission purposefully overlooked the Able Danger information because of perceived inconsistencies with other information about Atta, despite the fact that Able Danger picked Atta's name out of a hat (that is to say Atta and three 9/11 hijacker names out of the reams of data streaming into the program).

The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday.

The officials said that the information had not been included in the report because aspects of the officer's account had sounded inconsistent with what the commission knew about that Qaeda member, Mohammed Atta, the plot's leader.

But aides to the Republican congressman who has sought to call attention to the military unit that conducted the secret operation said such a conclusion relied too much on specific dates involving Mr. Atta's travels and not nearly enough on the operation's broader determination that he was a threat.

The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission's staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.

The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.Why this information was not included must be subject to scrutiny and skepticism.

Posted by: lawhawk at August 11, 2005 10:28 AM

Why the heck do people keep disappearing from my blogroll?

I have blogrolled you twice (that I know of - when I did it the second time, your name came up on autotype in the little field) and it keeps dropping off.... ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 11, 2005 10:41 AM

I can't believe what I've just read. In the aftermath of Oklahoma City, my gut feeling was that there had to have been Middle Eastern connection. This just reinforces that gut feeling. At the time (And still do) I considered the bomb to have been directional in nature, considering the damage that had been done, which would in my opinion have been too sophistcated for McVeigh and Nichols to build.

Posted by: John Conklin at August 11, 2005 11:09 AM

I don't regard it as proven fact, but I do regard it as highly interesting. Of course a lot of people think I'm a whack job for even bringing it up. I generally point those people to this quote:

"When the full stories of these two incidents (1993 WTC Center bombing and 1995 Oklahoma City bombing) are finally told, those who permitted the investigations to stop short will owe big explanations to these two brave women (Middle East expert Laurie Mylroie and journalist Jayna Davis). And the nation will owe them a debt of gratitude."

Former CIA Director
James Woolsey
"The Iraq Connection"
Wall Street Journal
September 5, 2002

Posted by: Cassandra at August 11, 2005 11:20 AM

Also, in the book "A Thousand Years for Revenge", the author intimates that the similarity in the bomb that was used in the 1st WTC attack (1993) and the Oklahoma City bombing (1995)were incredibly similar, and that Tim McVeigh (now executed and silent on the matter) didn't have the brains or know-how to mix up the bomb. Ramzi Yousef who made the 1st bomb, and now in a super-max prison in the US, for the rest of his life, may have trained another member in Al Qaeda to make such a bomb, and this person is suggested to be the "John Doe" in some of the reports.
Laurie Mylorie recounts this in her book (of which the title escapes me at this moment).

I, personally, find this all a little problematical, but not impossible. Stranger things have happened.

Posted by: David at August 11, 2005 12:22 PM

Book: The Third Terrorist ??

The Third somthing, I think. Or was it the Fifth something?

Posted by: KJ at August 11, 2005 01:57 PM

You might find this interesting


And this


Posted by: AJStrata at August 11, 2005 05:12 PM

David, it was Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War

CNN interview linked to my name

Posted by: Cassandra at August 11, 2005 05:17 PM

Let me see if I have this, "logic," straight:

What Representative Curt Weldon says is questionable, but we should take the Downing Street Memos as proof that Bush, "manipulated" the pre-war intelligence? Does that sum it up??

Posted by: JannyMae at August 12, 2005 12:58 PM

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