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Gold9472
02-01-2008, 03:21 PM
Key 9/11 Commission Staffer Held Secret Meetings With Rove, Scaled Back Criticisms of White House

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/01/30/zelikow-interfered/

1/31/2008

A forthcoming book by NYT reporter Philip Shenon — “The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation” — asserts that former 9/11 Commission executive director Philip Zelikow interfered with the 9/11 report.

According to the book, Zelikow had failed to inform the commission at the time he was hired that he was instrumental in helping Condoleezza Rice set up Bush’s National Security Council in 2001. Some panel staffers believe Zelikow stopped them from submitting a report depicting Rice’s performance prior to 9/11 as “amount to incompetence.”

Relying on the accounts of Max Holland, an author and blogger who has obtained a copy of the forthcoming book, ABC reports that Zelikow was holding private discussions with White House political adviser Karl Rove during the course of the 9/11 investigation:

[I]In his book, Shenon also says that while working for the panel, Zelikow appears to have had private conversations with former White House political director Karl Rove, despite a ban on such communication, according to Holland. Shenon reports that Zelikow later ordered his assistant to stop keeping a log of his calls, although the commission’s general counsel overruled him, Holland wrote.Zelikow flatly denied discussing the commission’s work with Rove. “I never discussed the 9/11 Commission with him, not at all. Period.”

After completing his work with the 9/11 Commission, Zelikow was hired by Condoleezza Rice as Counselor at the State Department. He resigned from that position in late 2006. In 1995, Rice and Zelikow co-authored a book entitled, “Germany Unified and Europe Transformed.”

Ex-9/11 Panel Chief Denies Secret White House Ties
Book Charges Zelikow May Have Interfered With the 9/11 Commission's Report

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4218157&page=1

By JUSTIN ROOD
Jan. 30, 2008

The former executive director of the 9/11 Commission denies explosive charges of undisclosed ties to the Bush White House or interference with the panel's report.

The charges are said to be contained in New York Times reporter Philip Shenon's unreleased book, "The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation," according to Max Holland, an author and blogger, and generally confirmed by the book's publisher. Although the book is not slated to hit stores until early next month, Holland says he bought a copy of the audio version at a bookstore. (Attempts to purchase the book, in any format, at the Barnes & Noble across the street from ABC News headquarters were unsuccessful.)

9/11 Commission co-chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton hired former Condoleezza Rice aide Philip Zelikow to be executive director, Zelikow failed to tell them about his role helping Rice set up President George W. Bush's National Security Council in early 2001 – and that he was "instrumental" in demoting Richard Clarke, the onetime White House counterterrorism czar who was fixated on the threat from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, according to Holland's version of Shenon's tome.

"[Zelikow] had laid the groundwork for much of what went wrong at the White House in the weeks and months before September 11. Would he want people to know that?" Shenon writes, according to Holland.

Zelikow denied that was the case. "It was very well-known I had served on this transition team and had declined to go into the administration. I worked there for a total of one month. I had interviewed Sandy Berger, Dick Clarke and most of the NSC staff." He noted he recused himself from working on the section of the panel's report addressing the NSC transition, and that other staffers had held conflicting positions in the Clinton administration.

In his book, Shenon also says that while working for the panel, Zelikow appears to have had private conversations with former White House political director Karl Rove, despite a ban on such communication, according to Holland. Shenon reports that Zelikow later ordered his assistant to stop keeping a log of his calls, although the commission's general counsel overruled him, Holland wrote.

Zelikow told ABC News he was under no prohibition that barred his conversations with Rove, and did not recall asking his assistant to stop logging his calls, although he did speak to her about leaving phone messages in a publicly visible place. "Two other people took my calls as well, and neither have a recollection" of Zelikow asking for calls not to be logged, he said. Further, Zelikow said 9/11 Commission general counsel Daniel Marcus did not raise the matter with Zelikow at the time.

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Marcus declined to confirm or deny the events.

Zelikow flatly denied discussing the commission's work with Rove. "I never discussed the 9/11 Commission with him, not at all. Period."

What's more, the idea of Zelikow and Rove conspiring over the commission's work was unrealistic, the ex-director indicated. "I was not a very popular person in the Bush White House when this was going on. There's a lot of carryover of that to this day."

Holland reports that Shenon discovered some panel staffers believed Zelikow stopped them from submitting a report depicting Rice's performance as "amount[ing] to incompetence, or something not far from it."

"I don't think that staffers will bear that out," Zelikow said. Out of 85 staffers, half a dozen were disgruntled, Zelikow told ABC News. "Under the circumstances, that was a pretty low fraction," he said. "But they all talked to Shenon."

Halfway into the panel's operation, Zelikow told his bosses under oath of the once-hidden ties, Holland's blog says Shenon's book reports. Upon hearing the details, Shenon writes, Marcus concluded Zelikow "never should have been hired," according to Holland.

"That's not right," Marcus said when told of the account. "That's certainly not true."

Shenon directed calls to his publisher, Twelve Books, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group.

Cary Goldstein, a spokesman for Hachette, confirmed the blog's characterization of the book's contents, but said he could not confirm direct quotes.

"It's not a surprise," Goldstein said when asked his reaction to the leak of the book's details before its Feb. 5 publication date. "I think people are really curious to see what the report had looked like if it hadn't been neutered in [the panel's] effort to be unanimous."

Gold9472
02-03-2008, 05:04 PM
Ties Between White House, Sept 11 Chief

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hWQCjbQNbAq13eIw2NMreAthexSgD8UJ290G0

By HOPE YEN – 35 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Sept. 11 commission's executive director had closer ties with the White House than publicly disclosed and tried to influence the final report in ways that the staff often perceived as limiting the Bush administration's responsibility, a new book says.

Philip Zelikow, a friend of then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, spoke with her several times during the 20-month investigation that closely examined her role in assessing the al-Qaida threat. He also exchanged frequent calls with the White House, including at least four from Bush's chief political adviser at the time, Karl Rove.

Zelikow once tried to push through wording in a draft report that suggested a greater tie between al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and Iraq, in line with White House claims but not with the commission staff's viewpoint, according to Philip Shenon's "The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation."

Shenon, a New York Times reporter, says Zelikow sought to intimidate staff to avoid damaging findings for President Bush, who at the time was running for re-election, and Rice. Zelikow and Rice had written a book together in 1995 and he would later work for her after the commission finished its job and she became secretary of state in 2005.

The Associated Press obtained an audio version of Shenon's book, which is to go on sale Tuesday.

Reached by the AP, Zelikow provided a 131-page statement with information he said was provided for the book. In it, Zelikow acknowledges talking to Rove and Rice during the course of the commission's work despite a general pledge he made not to. But he said the conversations never dealt with politics.

The White House had no immediate comment Sunday.

According to the book, when Democratic commissioner Bob Kerrey learned the extent of Zelikow's ties to the administration, he confronted Republican chairman Tom Kean and demanded to know why someone with such apparent conflicts of interest had been hired.

"Look Tom," Kerrey is quoted as saying, "either he goes or I go." Kean eventually persuaded Kerrey to stay.

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, the panel's Democratic vice chairman, praised Zelikow as a "person of integrity" who was upfront in disclosing his background and White House contacts.

"Did he try to sway the report to protect the administration? I think the answer was no," Hamilton told the AP.

The book says phone logs maintained by the commission's executive assistant showed at least two calls from Rove to Zelikow's office number in June 2003, and two more calls in September. During that time, the commission was in the midst of its fact-finding.

Zelikow ordered the assistant to stop keeping phone records of his contacts with the White House, the book said, but the panel's general counsel instructed her to ignore the order.

The phone logs do not record Zelikow's calls out, nor do they show calls on his cell phone, which he relied on for most outgoing calls. Records from the Government Accountability Office, which maintained some of the commission's phone records, showed frequent calls from Zelikow to telephone numbers in area code 202, with the telephone prefix 4-5-6 — the prefix exclusive to the White House, the book says.

Zelikow, in his written statement, said Rove had called with questions about the Bush library and other business related to Zelikow's work at the University of Virginia. Zelikow also said he enlisted Rice's logistical aid on behalf of the commission at one point to get Saudi cooperation so the panel could interview their citizens.

"Rove and I didn't really know each other," he said in the statement. "I don't recall ever having an extended conversation with him, and certainly not about politics or the commission."

The book seeks to raise new questions about the independence of the bipartisan commission, which was created in 2002 to investigate government missteps that led to the Sept. 11 attacks. Initially opposed by the White House, the panel issued a unanimous 567-page final report in July 2004 during the height of the presidential campaign that did not blame Bush or former President Clinton for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people but did say they each failed to make anti-terrorism a priority.

The book says that in early 2004, Zelikow allegedly sought to add to an initial staff report wording that linked al-Qaida to Iraq. The wording would have said the terrorist network repeatedly tried to communicate with the government of Saddam Hussein, a claim of cooperation the administration had cited to justify the war in Iraq. After a staff protest, Zelikow backed down; the final report said there was no "collaborative relationship" between Saddam and al-Qaida. Zelikow has said that he simply wanted the panel to keep an open mind on the issue.

Gold9472
02-03-2008, 09:55 PM
9/11 Commissioner: 'We had to go through Karl Rove'

http://rawstory.com/news/2007/911_Commissioner_We_had_to_go_0203.html

Nick Langewis and David Edwards
Published: Sunday February 3, 2008

Two recent segments delve into a new book that accuses the head of the ostensibly independent 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, of being beholden to the Bush Administration during his tenure.

The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, by New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, indicts Zelikow on his ties with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his frequent contact with senior political adviser Karl Rove, during what was touted as an independent investigation into the events surrounding the 2001 World Trade Center attack. This seeming conflict of interest, the book says, led Commission staffers not to trust Zelikow.

"We found him to be very fair-minded," counters co-chair Lee Hamilton, "quite impartial, very rigorous in his searching out of the facts; and he certainly did not try to protect the Bush Administration, or to protect anybody else."

9/11 Commission member John Lehman goes on to tell MSNBC that it was impossible not to go through Karl Rove when documents such as presidential daily briefings were needed. Many Commission members, he says, pressed the White House to provide more information and lift restrictions on a regular basis.

"We had to through Karl Rove, and through [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales and the other most senior members," says Lehman. He indeed hoped that Zelikow was talking to Karl Rove, although he expressed disappointment that contact with the White House wasn't more frequent towards the beginning of the investigations.

On charges that a mass of NSA records on al-Qaeda went unreviewed by the Commission, Lehman says that nothing new would have come about as a result of obtaining that data besides more text to put into the final Commission report.

The Commission is due to be published on February 5.

The following video is from NBC's Nightly News and MSNBC's News Live, broadcast February 2 and 3, 2008.

Video At Source

simuvac
02-03-2008, 11:49 PM
Even though the news has been around for several days, CNN waits until the Super Bowl to post it:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/03/sept11.director.ap/index.html

Gold9472
02-04-2008, 07:12 PM
The White House Mole

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/02/04/BL2008020401554.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

By Dan Froomkin
Monday, February 4, 2008; 1:41 PM

Less than four months before the 2004 election, it looked like President Bush might face a perilous accountability moment.

An independent, bipartisan commission was set to report on the "circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks."

The White House had a lot to lose from an unfettered, authoritative examination of those issues. The last thing Bush needed during a hotly contested reelection campaign was a reminder of his inattention to the threat of terrorism before 9/11, or of his initial paralysis when he heard the news, or of his misbegotten attempts to pin the blame on Iraq.

Bush originally fought the establishment of such a commission. Even after he bowed to congressional pressure, he still only went along grudgingly. For instance, he famously refused to face the panel alone or in public, insisting instead on a private, unrecorded interview with Vice President Cheney at his side.

But when the report finally came out, it was clear Bush had dodged another bullet. The commission spread the blame for 9/11 far and wide and emphasized needed structural changes over accountability.

Now, it seems the White House may not have needed to be too apprehensive about the commission's report. It had an inside man. And he was one of the guys in charge.

Hope Yen writes for the Associated Press: "The Sept. 11 commission's executive director had closer ties with the White House than publicly disclosed and tried to influence the final report in ways that the staff often perceived as limiting the Bush administration's responsibility, a new book says.

"Philip Zelikow, a friend of then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, spoke with her several times during the 20-month investigation that closely examined her role in assessing the al-Qaida threat. He also exchanged frequent calls with the White House, including at least four from Bush's chief political adviser at the time, Karl Rove.

"Zelikow once tried to push through wording in a draft report that suggested a greater tie between al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and Iraq, in line with White House claims but not with the commission staff's viewpoint, according to Philip Shenon's 'The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation.' . . .

"Reached by the AP, Zelikow provided a 131-page statement with information he said was provided for the book. In it, Zelikow acknowledges talking to Rove and Rice during the course of the commission's work despite a general pledge he made not to. But he said the conversations never dealt with politics.

"The White House had no immediate comment Sunday."

Michael Isikoff writes in Newsweek: "In the summer of 2003, Warren Bass, an investigator for the 9/11 Commission, was digging through highly classified National Security Council documents when he came across a trove of material that startled him. Buried in the files of former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, the documents seemed to confirm charges that the Bush White House had ignored repeated warnings about the threat posed by Osama bin Laden. Clarke, it turned out, had bombarded national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice in the summer of 2001 with impassioned e-mails and memos warning of an Al Qaeda attack--and urging a more forceful U.S. government response. One e-mail jumped out: it pleaded with officials to imagine how they would feel after a tragedy where 'hundreds of Americans lay dead in several countries, including the U.S.,' adding that 'that future day could happen at any time.' The memo was written on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001 -- just one week before the attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"But when Bass tried to impress the significance of what he had discovered upon the panel, he ran into what he thought was a roadblock -- his boss. Philip Zelikow, a respected University of Virginia historian hired to be the 9/11 Commission's executive director, had long been friendly with Rice. The two had coauthored a book. Rice had later placed him on a Bush transition team that reorganized the NSC (and ended up diminishing Clarke's role). At Rice's request, Zelikow had also anonymously drafted a new Bush national-security paper in September 2002 that laid out the case for preventive war.

"In commission staff meetings, Zelikow disparaged Clarke as an egomaniac and braggart who was unjustly slandering his friend Rice, according to [Shenon's] new book. . . .

"Rove himself, according to Shenon, always feared that a report which laid the blame for 9/11 at the president's doorstep was the one development that could most jeopardize Bush's 2004 re-election. That's one reason why White House lawyers tried to stonewall the commission from the outset. When Clarke finally did testify about his warnings to Rice, Shenon reports, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and his aides feverishly drafted tough questions and phoned them in to GOP commissioners to undermine Clarke's credibility. Later, when Attorney General John Ashcroft unveiled a memo that seemed to cast the antiterror record of the Clinton Justice Department in an unflattering light, Gonzales and his aides high-fived each other."

Deja Vu All Over Again
This isn't the first time it's turned out that the 9/11 Commission wasn't getting the full picture. It's not even the second.

As I wrote in my Oct. 2, 2006 column, Bob Woodward disclosed in his book "State of Denial" that commission investigators weren't told about a July 2001 meeting, in which Rice waved off warnings that should have put the government on high alert for an al-Qaeda attack.

In an excerpt from his book, Woodward wrote: "On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.

"Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. . . .

"He and Black hoped to convey the depth of their anxiety and get Rice to kick-start the government into immediate action. . . .

"Tenet hoped his abrupt request for an immediate meeting would shake Rice. He and Black, a veteran covert operator, had two main points when they met with her. First, al-Qaeda was going to attack American interests, possibly in the United States itself. Black emphasized that this amounted to a strategic warning, meaning the problem was so serious that it required an overall plan and strategy. Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be addressed immediately. They needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden. . . .

"Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies. . . .

"The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks, but it stood out in the minds of Tenet and Black as the starkest warning they had given the White House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Though the investigators had access to all the paperwork on the meeting, Black felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn't want to know about.

"'Philip D. Zelikow, the aggressive executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and a University of Virginia professor who had co-authored a book with Rice on Germany, knew something about the July 10 meeting, but it was not clear to him what immediate action really would have meant."

The day after that excerpt appeared, Philip Shenon wrote in the New York Times: "Members of the Sept. 11 commission said Sunday they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a July 2001 White House meeting at which George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, about an imminent attack by al-Qaeda and failed to persuade her to take action. . . .

"Some questioned whether information about the July 10 meeting was intentionally withheld from the panel. . . .

"In interviews Saturday and Sunday, commission members said they were never told about the meeting despite hours of public and private questioning with Ms. Rice, Mr. Tenet and Mr. Black, much of it focused specifically on how the White House dealt with terrorist threats in the summer of 2001. . . .

"Around the time of that July meeting, Rice and Bush were more focused on their pet issue: missile defense. And Bush wasn't interested in 'swatting flies' -- he was already looking for a reason to attack Iraq.

"And a month later, as Ron Suskind reported in his book, 'The One Percent Doctrine,' an unnamed CIA briefer flew to Bush's Texas ranch to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled ' Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.' According to Suskind, Bush heard the briefer out and replied: 'All right. You've covered your ass, now.'"

And Don't Forget the Torture Tapes
And just a few weeks ago, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, who served as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 commission, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that "the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes -- and did not tell us about them -- obstructed our investigation.

"There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. -- or the White House -- of the commission's interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations."