Critics Cite Omissions, Cover-Ups On First Anniversary of 9/11 Commission Report

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 11:01 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On the first anniversary of the 9/11 Commission Report, family members and experts challenged its veracity and comprehensiveness at hearings convened by Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) on July 22.

Congresswoman McKinney set the tone by reminding the assembled citizens and media in the stately Cannon Office Building hearing room of administration’s opposition to the commission, of the conflicts of interest among its members and of the omissions in the report. Many of the alleged hijackers are alive in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt, she said, yet the report failed to mention this. She lamented that the report did not cover the final $100,000 payment to hijacker Mohamed Atta from Saeed Sheikh or Bin Laden’s connection with the mujaheddin. Much “inconvenient information” was left out of the report, she said. Co-chair the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, Lorie Van Auken, whose husband died in the World Trade Center, shattered the notion that the report is an accurate account by presenting numerous cases where it is suspect, such as the three-minute discrepancy with the seismic record of the flight 93 crash and the failure to investigate the claim by the administration spokesman that there were no warnings when in fact there were many. The report somehow skipped over the FBI’s thwarting of a request to search Zacorais Moussaoui’s computer by editing the request and finally blocking it. According to Van Auken, the so-called Reno Wall excuse for this was unjustified and an FBI lawyer who looked into the affair had never seen a refusal for a search request such as this. Moreover, the FBI official responsible for blocking the request, David Frasca, was rewarded with a promotion and large financial bonus.

Van Auken also cites the report’s failure to draw a conclusion from the CIA’s lack of follow-up on a tip from German intelligence that could have led to the Hamburg cell. Buried in a footnote, she said, the report mentions the CIA deliberately kept the FBI out of the loop regarding two suspects who should have been on a watch list much earlier. The desk officer would not say who told her to withhold this information. The commission perpetuates the myth that institutional problems, not intentional withholding, were to blame, she said. Van Auken directly challenged the veracity of Condoleezza Rice’s testimony regarding purported ignorance of the threat posed by hijacked planes used as missiles and the famous presidential daily briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States.” Van Auken characterized the latter as domestic and current rather than historical.

Reflecting the frustration of many victims’ families, Van Auken noted the absence of prosecutions, citing the release of suspects in Germany because of the lack of cooperation from the United States. She said the report did not adequately account for the military exercises on the morning of 9/11, which created considerable confusion. Only one video of the Pentagon has been released, she said, and it has the wrong date on it. The commission did not answer requests to see the videos from a nearby gas station and hotel.

A list of whistleblowers whose testimony was either barely acknowledged or omitted, she said, showed that the commission “actively and knowingly ignored evidence.” Van Auken derided the commission’s conclusion that 9/11 was the result of a “failure of imagination” and she condemned the way it skirted questions of accountability.

Addressing flaws in the process, 9/11 CitizensWatch co-founder John Judge noted that much of the testimony concerned recommendations for intelligence reform rather than what actually happened. Members and staff of the commission are part of the national security state with serious conflicts of interest, he said. Many of the sources cannot be seen and FOIA requests to do so have been denied. Judge said that the commission’s work faced obstruction from the White House and suffered from unquestioned acceptance of information from earlier reports.

Ex-CIA official Mel Goodman said the commission deferred to executive privilege, failed to use its subpoena power with detainees and, in general, lacked tenacity. Goodman said Philip Zelikow, the commission’s staff director with deep right-wing connections, authored intelligence case studies at Harvard purporting to show how the CIA made accurate assessments of the Soviet Union, when in fact the agency was famously wrong. Goodman was questioned by Mike Ruppert, author of Crossing the Rubicon in which he alleges Vice President Cheney orchestrated the event. Ruppert was the only person at the hearing to flatly state that 9/11 was an inside job.

Paul Thompson, creator of the influential Complete 9/11 Timeline online and author of The Terror Timeline published by Harper-Collins, said that there are five timeline accounts in conflict with each other, adding the commission made a “complete rewrite of what happened” in 2004. Thompson quoted Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) as saying that the North American Aerospace Command and the Federal Aviation Administration have “lied to the American people.” Thompson has discovered yet another war game taking place on 9/11, this one with the ominous title Global Guardian: Practice Armageddon.

Nafeez Ahmed, author most recently of War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism, spoke of “unresolved anomalies” in the hijackers’ behavior, such as trips to the Philippines and Las Vegas for “prohibited pleasures.” He cited the hijackers training at U.S. military installations and noted that they had all been under surveillance - yet they were able to enter the United States. According to a Miami Herald report, he said, hijacker Mohamed Atta’s conversations with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were monitored by the National Security Agency. Ahmed noted that the United States used the mujaheddin in Bosnia and he finds a pattern in the way Algerian and Philippine intelligence services infiltrated terrorist organizations and perpetrated massacres.

Other panelists included Marilyn Rosenthal PhD. on the pre-9/11 warnings, Lauretta Napoleoni on terror financing, Anne Norton on the political philosophy of U.S. conservatives, John Newman on “triple agent” Saeed Sheikh, and Peter Dale Scott on drugs, oil, and U.S. operational ties with the al-Qaeda. In addition to Ruppert, the questioners included former intelligence analysts turned critics Ray McGovern (CIA) and Wayne Madsen (NSA). Pacifica Network’s Verna Avery-Brown moderated the proceedings. This was a rare hearing in a Republican-controlled Congress, proving, as Wallace Stevens said, that in the presence of an extraordinary event, conscience takes the place of imagination.

Len Bracken is the author of Shadow Government: 9-11 and State Terror.