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Thread: Advanced review of Philip Shenon's The Commission

  1. #1
    simuvac Guest

    Advanced review of Philip Shenon's The Commission

    http://www.washingtondecoded.com/sit...sion-conf.html
    30 January 2008

    Commission Confidential
    By Max Holland
    In a revelation bound to cast a pall over the 9/11 Commission, Philip Shenon will report in a forthcoming book that the panel’s executive director, Philip Zelikow, engaged in “surreptitious” communications with presidential adviser Karl Rove and other Bush administration officials during the commission’s 20-month investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

    Shenon, who led The New York Times’ coverage of the 9/11 panel, reveals the Zelikow-Rove connection in a new book entitled The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, to be published next month by Twelve Books. The Commission is under an embargo until its February 5 publication, but Washington DeCoded managed to purchase a copy of the abridged audio version from a New York bookstore.

    In what’s termed an “investigation of the investigation,” Shenon purports to tell the story of the commission from start to finish. The book’s critical revelations, however, revolve almost entirely around the figure of Philip Zelikow, a University of Virginia professor and director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs prior to his service as the commission’s executive director. Shenon delivers a blistering account of Zelikow’s role and leadership, and an implicit criticism of the commissioners for appointing Zelikow in the first place—and then allowing him to stay on after his myriad conflicts-of-interest were revealed under oath.

    Shenon’s narrative is built from extensive interviews with staff members and several, if not all, the commissioners. He depicts Zelikow as exploiting his central position to negate or neutralize criticism of the Bush administration so that the White House would not bear, in November 2004, the political burden of failing to prevent the attacks.



    The Commission includes these specific revelations:

    • Kean and Hamilton appreciated that Zelikow was a friend and former colleague of then-national security adviser Condoleeza Rice, one of the principal officials whose conduct would be scrutinized. Zelikow had served with her on the National Security Council (NSC) during the presidency of Bush’s father, and they had written a book together about German reunification. The commission co-chairmen also knew of Zelikow’s October 2001 appointment to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. According to Shenon, however, Zelikow failed to disclose several additional and egregious conflicts-of-interest, among them, the fact that he had been a member of Rice’s NSC transition team in 2000-01. In that capacity, Zelikow had been the “architect” responsible for demoting Richard Clarke and his counter-terrorism team within the NSC. As Shenon puts it, Zelikow “had laid the groundwork for much of went wrong at the White House in the weeks and months before September 11. Would he want people to know that?”

    • Karen Heitkotter, the commission’s executive secretary, was taken aback on June 23, 2003 when she answered the telephone for Zelikow at 4:40 PM and heard a voice intone, “This is Karl Rove. I’m looking for Philip.” Heitkotter knew that Zelikow had promised the commissioners he would cut off all contact with senior officials in the Bush administration. Nonetheless, she gave Zelikow’s cell phone number to Rove. The next day there was another call from Rove at 11:35 AM. Subsequently, Zelikow would claim that these calls pertained to his “old job” at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

    • The full extent of Zelikow’s involvement with the incumbent administration administration only became evident within the commission on October 8, 2003, almost halfway into the panel’s term. Determined to blunt the Jersey Girls’ call for his resignation or recusal, Zelikow proposed that he be questioned under oath about his activities. General counsel Daniel Marcus, who conducted the sworn interview, brought a copy of the résumé Zelikow had provided to Kean and Hamilton. None of the activities Zelikow now detailed—his role on Rice’s transition team, his instrumental role in Clarke’s demotion, his authorship of a post-9/11 pre-emptive attack doctrine—were mentioned in the résumé. Zelikow blandly asserted to Marcus that he did not see “any of this as a major conflict of interest.” Marcus’s conclusion was that Zelikow “should never have been hired” as executive director. But the only upshot from these shocking disclosures was that Zelikow was involuntarily recused from that part of the investigation which involved the presidential transition, and barred from participating in subsequent interviews of senior Bush administration officials.

    • Some two months later, as Bob Kerrey replace disgruntled ex-Senator Max Cleland on the panel, the former Nebraska senator became astounded once he understood Zelikow’s obvious conflicts-of-interest and his very limited recusal. Kerrey could not understand how Kean and Hamilton had ever agreed to put Zelikow in charge. “Look Tom,” Kerrey told Kean, “either he goes or I go.” But Kean persuaded Kerrey to drop his ultimatum.

    • In late 2003, around the time his involuntary recusal was imposed, Zelikow called executive secretary Karen Heitkotter into his office and ordered her to stop creating records of his incoming telephone calls. Concerned that the order was improper, a nervous Heitkotter soon told general counsel Marcus. He advised her to ignore Zelikow’s order and continue to keep a log of his telephone calls, insofar as she knew about them.

    • Although Shenon could not obtain from the GAO an unredacted record of Zelikow’s cell phone use—and Zelikow used his cell phone for most of his outgoing calls—the Times reporter was able to establish that Zelikow made numerous calls to “456” numbers in the 202 area code, which is the exclusive prefix of the White House.

    • Even after his recusal, Zelikow continued to insert himself into the work of “Team 3,” the task force responsible for the most politically-sensitive part of the investigation, counter-terrorism policy. This brief encompassed the White House, which meant investigating the conduct of Condoleeza Rice and Richard Clarke during the months prior to 9/11. Team 3 staffers would come to believe that Zelikow prevented them from submitting a report that would have depicted Rice’s performance as “amount[ing] to incompetence, or something not far from it.”

    In Without Precedent, Kean and Hamilton’s 2006 account of the 9/11 panel, the two co-chairmen wrote that Zelikow was a controversial choice
    . . . [but] we had full confidence in Zelikow’s independence and ability—and frankly, we wanted somebody who was unafraid to roil the waters from time to time. He recused himself from anything involving his work on the NSC transition. He made clear his determination to conduct an aggressive investigation. And he was above all a historian dedicated to a full airing of the facts. It was clear from people who knew and worked with him that Zelikow would not lead a staff inquiry that did anything less than uncover the most detailed and accurate history of 9/11.
    Shenon’s radically different account of the commission’s inner workings promises to achieve what none of the crackpot conspiracy theorists have managed to do so far: put the 9/11 Commission in disrepute.

    The Commission will be reviewed in the February issue of Washington DeCoded.

  2. #2
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    "Shenon’s radically different account of the commission’s inner workings promises to achieve what none of the crackpot conspiracy theorists have managed to do so far: put the 9/11 Commission in disrepute."

    Um... yeah... we've NEVER "managed" to discredit the 9/11 Commission.

    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  3. #3
    simuvac Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Gold9472
    "Shenon’s radically different account of the commission’s inner workings promises to achieve what none of the crackpot conspiracy theorists have managed to do so far: put the 9/11 Commission in disrepute."

    Um... yeah... we've NEVER "managed" to discredit the 9/11 Commission.

    I tried posting a comment to that effect at his website, but I think he filters the comments.

  4. #4
    simuvac Guest
    http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/st...4218157&page=1
    Ex-9/11 Panel Chief Denies Secret White House Ties

    Book Charges Zelikow May Have Interfered With the 9/11 Commission's Report

    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."

  5. #5
    werther Guest
    "Shenon’s radically different account of the commission’s inner workings promises to achieve what none of the crackpot conspiracy theorists have managed to do so far: put the 9/11 Commission in disrepute."

    Um... yeah... we've NEVER "managed" to discredit the 9/11 Commission.
    God Dammit! How is it that there are so many souless people in this fucking world!

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