Today in America, we are witness to a great unraveling, the likes of which we have never seen before. There are no historical precedents. For many months now the official narrative about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on America has been coming apart, and I mean: at the seams. The official story about that terrible day is disintegrating.
The trend shows no sign of abating and in recent weeks it
even appears to have accelerated. At the present rate, soon there will be
nothing left of the official version of events but a discordant echo and a
series of extremely rude after shocks.
According to the Washington Post the
members of the commission vented their frustrations at a special meeting in
the summer of 2004. The panel even considered referring the matter to the
Justice Department for a criminal investigation.
The bleeding continued in May 2007 with the
stunning announcement that former BYU physicist Steven Jones had
found residues of thermate, a high temperature explosive, in the dust of the
collapsed World Trade Center. The discovery has the gravest
implications for our nation, and probably for this reason the announcement
went reported in the US media. In a later chapter I will discuss this
important evidence in detail.
Their blunt accusation was explosive and should have caused every American to sit up and take notice. Unfortunately, the average American probably failed to connect the dots because, as usual, the US media offered nothing in the way of helpful context or analysis. We were fed the usual diet of tidbits and sound bytes: a wealth of minutiae.
The big picture remained elusive.
The methods included "waterboarding," which induces a sensation of drowning in the unlucky individual. Evidently, the CIA decided for its own internal reasons to video-tape these early interrogation sessions. However, years later (in 2005), Jose A, Rodriquez, the CIA's Director of Operations, ordered the tapes destroyed.
For what reason?
Well, according to current CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, because the tapes posed "a serious security risk."
Hayden went on to clarify his rather cryptic
remark, and explained to the press that if the tapes had become public they
would have exposed CIA officials "and their families to retaliation from Al
Qaeda and its sympathizers." The excuse was flimflam, but the US media hung
on Hayden's every word as if he were speaking gospel. The press certainly
did not throw him any hard balls. Nor did they press him on the point.
One might naturally assume that the official commission charged to investigate the events of 9/11 would have had unfettered access to all of the evidence pertinent to the case, including government documents and key witnesses. This goes without saying. Access was vital to the success of the investigation.
How else could the commission do its work?
Yet, it never happened.
Ultimately, the commission was forced to rely on
third-hand intelligence reports prepared by the CIA itself. Many of these
reports were poorly written and incomplete summaries which, according to
the co-chairs "raised almost as many questions as they answered."
In their article Kean and Hamilton state that "the [CIA] general counsel responded in writing with non-specific replies."
This is a bland way of saying that the agency stiffed the panel. Not satisfied, Kean and Hamilton made another attempt to gain access to the captives, but were again rebuffed during a head-to-head meeting with Tenet in December 2003. For this reason the ambiguities and other questions went unresolved and still flaw the commission's final report. Yet, as I have indicated, the more serious problem was the panel's lack of access to begin with, a problem that was by no means obvious until the recent story broke in the mainstream press.
As we now know, Kean and Hamilton had inserted a
caveat in their report (on page 146) conceding that they were denied access
to the witnesses. Most readers, however, probably pass right over it without
understanding its awful significance. I know I did, the first time I read
According to the Times, Goss was angered to learn he had been left out of the loop. But Goss declined to make a public statement.
This is just as shocking as the destruction of the tapes because it points to a disconnect in the chain of command.
The 9/11 Commission Report was packaged and sold to the American people like some trendy product. The US media has told us countless times it is the definitive version of the events of September 11, and in 2008 most Americans probably take this for granted. When something is repeated enough times on television people begin to believe it whether it is true or not.
This is what happens when mass marketing is made to serve a political agenda. We witnessed a similar phenomenon during the run-up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, when President G.W. Bush's mantra about Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and his supposed links to Al Qaeda were drummed into the brain of every American. Today, of course, we know different. None of it was true.
Yet, on the eve of that war a Washington Post
poll found that 70% of Americans believed that Saddam was responsible for
9/11. The case is a sobering example of the
power of the corporate media to shape public opinion
with - let us call it by its true name - propaganda.
The 9/11 Commission's lack of direct access to the captured members of al Qaeda can only mean that the official 9/11 investigation was fundamentally compromised from the outset. No other conclusion is possible, given the latest disclosures. In their recent article Kean and Hamilton do not repudiate their own report, at least, not in so many words.
But they come close.
They insinuate that the CIA's stonewalling now calls into question the veracity of key parts of the official story, especially the plot against America supposedly masterminded by Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and approved by Osama bin Laden. Until now, the nation has assumed that all of this was soundly based on the testimony of the captured al Qaeda operatives, several of whom supposedly confessed. This is the story told in the 9/11 Commission Report. However, when you probe more deeply you discover the devil lurking in the details. I personally believe there was a plot by al Qaeda to attack America.
Yet, without independent confirmation about what
the captives actually confessed to, precisely what was said and by whom,
indeed, whether they confessed at all, there is absolutely no way for us to
know how much of the official story is true and how much was fabricated by
the CIA for reasons we can only guess.
Another important question is:
Philip Shenon's New Book
His book's sub-title, The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission, sounds very promising. Nor does the author fail to deliver. Shenon covered the 9/11 Commission for the New York Times and over the course of the investigation he personally interviewed many of the commissioners and staff.
His book is an overnight best-seller, and for
good reason. It is a well-written expose and affords our best look yet at
what went on behind-the-scenes. Instead of burdening us with his personal
opinions, Shenon plays the role of reporter, and describes what happened
through the eyes of the commissioners and staff. The book provides valuable
insights into why the investigation failed.
Zelikow also edited (and, no doubt, doctored) the final report. In addition to being a long-time confidante of Rice, with whom he coauthored a book, Zelikow served on Bush's transition team and even drafted a national security strategy paper that became the basis for the Bush administration's attempts in late 2002 to justify the coming war against Iraq. It is hard to believe that Kean and Hamilton, who claim their goal was to lead a nonpartisan investigation, would have knowingly hired such a man - a neocon - to manage the day-to-day affairs of their panel.
According to Shenon, it only happened
because Zelikow failed to report the full extent of his ties to the
Bush administration when he submitted his resume for the job. If Zelikow had
been more forthcoming he would have been instantly eliminated from
consideration. But this hardly excuses Kean and Hamilton for failing to
properly vet the candidate.
Tenet gave testimony on three occasions (in addition to the private meetings with Kean and Hamilton) and in each of these hearings the CIA Director suffered from a faulty memory, frequently responding with "I can't remember." Initially, the commissioners were inclined to be sympathetic and gave the director the benefit of the doubt.
(Tenet's supporters at the agency reportedly made excuses for their boss: George could not remember because he was dead-tired, physically exhausted from dealing with the war on terrorism, and suffering from sleep deprivation - not getting enough shuteye. Poor old George.)
But gradually the tide turned. By Tenet's third
appearance it was obvious to everyone he was perjuring himself.
The comment was not well received. According to
Shenon, it prompted a rumble in the audience, including sneers from the
families of the victims who wanted those officials responsible to be held
The Church hearings shocked the nation and led to the creation of House and Senate intelligence committees to provide the democratic oversight that was sorely lacking. At any rate, that was the intent. But as with so many good ideas it never worked as expected. The CIA soon found ways around the oversight process.
This is not surprising when you consider that the agency's expertise is clandestine operations. Today, the Intelligence Committees in both houses are widely viewed as a joke, and despite a chorus of denials from the agency and its admirers the perception is undoubtedly correct. To his credit, Shenon touches on the problem. The author mentions that one of the commissioners, former Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA), once served on the Senate Intelligence Committee but quit in frustration because of the lack of any serious business.
Does such an agency deserve our trust and
It was a huge mistake, however. Had Kean and Hamilton stood tough and issued blanket subpoenas early in the investigation as their legal counsel advised, the inevitable showdown in the courts would have worked in their favor. Bush and Tenet would have been perceived - correctly - as obstructing the investigation and would have come under increasing pressure and scrutiny.
That sort of confrontation would have served the discovery process and the cause of 9/11 truth. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. This helps to explain why the official investigation failed in its stated objective:
Although Philip Shenon supports the official narrative, his research was so narrowly focused that his rather casual discounting of "conspiracy theorists" can do no harm to the 9/11 truth movement. (Here, of course, "conspiracy theorist" means anyone who does not agree with the official conspiracy theory.) Judging from his book, Shenon appears to be genuinely unaware that in 2007 the evidence shifted decisively in favor of the "conspiracy theorists."
It is ironic that, whatever his personal views,
his book is likely to speed the unraveling process.
Obviously, a new legally empowered investigative body is urgently needed, since the 9/11 Commission no longer exists. While there are many reasons to worry about the future - we have entered the most dangerous time in our history - the good news is that, once begun, the unraveling process is irreversible. It moves in only one direction: forward.
As in the famous nursery rhyme, the official
reality is falling apart and the pieces will never be put back together