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9/11 Commission Compromised in White House 'Deal'
By Kyle F. Hence
Nov 15, 2003, 4:35pm

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9/11 CITIZENSWATCH ACTION ALERT:

Dear readers:

In my opinion this so-called deal renders the Commission a farce and their investigation a joke. This so-called compromise has compromised the now spineless, toothless Commission. The Commission plainly tips their hand in refusing to reveal to the family members the simple details of the agreement. It demonstrates to every American told the world changed forever on 9/11, to all those who harbor doubts about the official story and who seek genuine transparency and accountability that it's just business as usual as the truth is buried behind rhetoric, a dark veil of secrecy and denial, and a convoluted set of conditions of access. Both the cowed Commission and the duplicitous President who created it only after his hand was forced by the victims' families are complicit in this travesty of justice and blatant compromise of investigative standards.

C'mon folks...two commissioners get to see only portions of the Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs). These documents cannot leave the White House. The two commissioners take notes. Then the notes must be reviewed by White House counsel before being released to two other commissioners who then can only talk about them with the remaining six commissioners. And ultimately none of this might even be released to the American public because the White House will of course review and perhaps redact the final report due out on May 27th next year.

In all likelihood based on leaks discussed for months now, there are details hidden in these presidential papers that indeed there were in fact somewhat or very detailed warnings about a threat from Osama bin Laden to the Continental US; a threat that could involve hijackings. Warnings which the Administration said in the immediate aftermath that they didn't recieve. Clearly they fear this story might emerge undeniably in black and white if full access was granted. Given this understanding it comes to no surprise that they would go to such lengths to so seriously restrict access to the Commissioners, all of whom have security clearances making them legally bound not to relate to the public the contents of classified material.

And what's particularly interesting about the whole bruhaha over these documents is that there is absolutely no mention of the details of the even more important National Security Counsel meeting called by Counterterrorism Director Richard Clarke and held in July 2001. This song and dance is a smokescreen. The report circulated and discussed at that time referred to an imminent attack that would occur without warning and would inflict mass casualties or something to that effect. Word is that this meeting led the President to request a more detailed briefing on the Al-Qeada threat which he recieved later in the form of a PDB on August 6th.

What's even more interesting to this observer than this neglect of the NSC's documents of 2001 is the fact that Dr. Zelikow, the Commission's Director is in compromised position. See, we've compromises all over the place. This time it's because of a blatant conflict of interest due to his close ties with National Security Advisor, Condaleeza Rice with whom he co-authored a book last year and even more importantly, he was a member of the transition team that established the make-up of the current National Security Counsel. This is without doubt the worst conflict of interest to emerge since Kissinger was appointed Chair of the Commission in December of last year. Yet here again, the Commission has dismissed the concern of 9/11 families and others. This blatant arrogance is testimony to a nefarious pattern of shenanigans which by all appearances, if unchallenged by popular outcry, will insure that the whole story behind 9/11 never emerges and no one is held accountable.

Please read the following material and inform yourself if you haven't already. And then please forward this email to your friends and colleagues before taking some action either in support of Commissioners Cleland and Roemer or in protest of the White House obfuscation and the Commission's acquiescience. Come and join CitizensWatch and the family members at Drew University next Wednesday as well...time to make some noise about this investigation gone bad turned cover-up -- a sham.

Sincerely,

Kyle F. Hence
kylehence@earthlink.net
911citizenswatch.org
================================================================

Table of Contents

1) Cleland on 9/11 Commission deal with White House -- Contact details for the Commission
2) Details about 5th public hearing of the 9/11 Commission. Please come if you can.
3) The New York Times: Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit Papers
4) The Family Steering Committee's Statement Regarding Access to Presidential Daily Briefings
5) White House Presidential Daily Briefings only tip of the iceberg - editorial by Kyle F. Hence

================================================================

1) Cleland on 9/11 Commission deal with White House -- Contact details for the Commission

Last night on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, 9-11 Commissioner Max Cleland said:

"The 9-11 Commission DEAL with the White House on 9-11 documents is a SHAM, IT'S DISGUSTING, AMERICA IS BEING CHEATED."

Contact:
Al Felzenberg, Communications Director
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Office: 202-401-1725 . Cell: 202-236-4878 . Fax: 202-296-5545
afelzenberg@9-11commission.gov

ALSO, CALL, FAX, EMAIL OTHER COMMISSIONERS:

Thomas H. Kean, Chair
Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chair
Richard Ben-Veniste
Max Cleland
Fred F. Fielding
Jamie S. Gorelick
Slade Gorton
John F. Lehman
Timothy J. Roemer
James R. Thompson

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
301 7th Street, SW
Room 5125
Washington, DC 20407

Washington Office*
Tel: (202) 331-4060
Fax: (202) 296-5545
info@9-11Commission.gov

New York Office
Tel: (212) 264-1505
Fax: (212) 264-1595
info@9-11Commission.gov

================================================================
2) Details about 5th public hearing of the 9/11 Commission. Please come if you can.

The Fifth public hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States will be held on November 19, 2003 at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.
http://www.9-11commission.gov/hearings/hearing5.htm

related story:
http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-4/1068533466171430.xml

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/14/national/14TERR.html

================================================================
3) The New York Times: Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit Papers by PHILIP SHENON

http://www.vermontindymedia.org/newswire/display/1832/index.php

November 14, 2003

Deal on 9/11 Briefings Lets White House Edit Papers

By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13: The commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said on Thursday that its deal with the White House for access to highly classified Oval Office intelligence reports would let the White House edit the documents before they were released to the commission's representatives.

The agreement, announced on Wednesday, has led to the first public split on the commission. Two Democrats on the 10-member panel say that the commission should have demanded full access to the intelligence summaries, known as the President's Daily Brief, and that the White House should not be allowed to determine what is relevant to the investigation.

An umbrella group of victims' families joined the criticism, saying the terms of the accord should be public.

While spokesmen for panel refused again to provide the terms, citing the sensitivity of the talks with the White House, its executive director acknowledged that the White House would be able to remove information from the reports unrelated to Al Qaeda and to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"An entire P.D.B. will have articles about China, South Africa, Venezuela," the executive director, Philip D. Zelikow, said in an interview. "The notion that the commission should want to read P.D.B. articles that have nothing to do with Al Qaeda would be a novel suggestion. The commission has not asked to see the country's most sensitive intelligence information on China or North Korea."

A Democrat on the panel who has criticized the accord, former Representative Timothy J. Roemer of Indiana, said in an interview that he believed that the panel had agreed to terms that would let the White House edit the reports to remove the contexts in which the intelligence was presented and to hide any "smoking guns."

"The President's Daily Brief can run 9 to 12 pages long," Mr. Roemer said. "But under this agreement, the commission will be allowed to see only specific articles or paragraphs within the P.D.B.'s. Our members may see only two or three paragraphs out of a nine-page report."

He said the commission should have insisted on access to the full reports, because "you need the context of how the P.D.B. was presented to the president in order to determine whether or not there were smoking guns."

The other Democratic critic on the panel, former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, has described the agreement as unconscionable.

Administration officials have acknowledged that they are concerned that intelligence reports received by Mr. Bush in the weeks before 9/11 might be construed to suggest that the White House failed to respond to evidence suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning a catastrophic attack. The White House acknowledged last year in response to news reports that a copy of the Daily Brief in August 2001 noted that Al Qaeda might use hijacked planes in an attack.

Commission officials have said that under the agreement the panel will be able to designate four members to read the reports. They will be allowed to take notes on the documents, and the White House will be allowed to review and edit the notes to remove especially sensitive information.

In its statement, the victims' family group, the Family Steering Committee, said the agreement would "prevent a full uncovering of the truth and is unacceptable." The group is led by many advocates who were most responsible for pressuring Congress to create the commission last year over the initial objections of the White House.

"As it now stands, a limited number of commissioners will have restricted access to a limited number of P.D.B. documents," the group said. "The commission should issue a statement to the American public fully explaining why this agreement was chosen in lieu of issuing subpoenas to the C.I.A. and executive branch."

The group said, "All 10 commissioners should have full, unfettered and unrestricted access to all evidence, including but not limited to all Presidential Daily Briefings."

A spokesman for the group, Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed at the World Trade Center, said the families were alarmed that the terms of the accord were kept secret.

`'I think this entire deal needs to be explained to the public," Ms. Breitweiser said. "This is an independent commission that is supposed to be transparent, that is supposed to be open."

=================================================================
4)The Family Steering Committee's Statement
Regarding Access to Presidential Daily Briefings


November 13, 2003

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Against the United States, commonly known as the 9/11 Independent Commission, released a statement to the press regarding the culmination of recent negotiations with the White House. These negotiations involved the 9/11 Independent Commission's document requests for access to certain Presidential Daily Briefings that may relate to the 9/11 attacks.

In response to the Commission's Press Release, which provides insufficient details to evaluate the circumstances and effects of the compromise, the Family Steering Committee holds the following positions:

1. All ten Commissioners should have full, unfettered, and unrestricted access to all evidence - including but not limited to all Presidential Daily Briefings and all working notes related to those Presidential Daily Briefings, that may be related to the attacks on 9/11.

2. The full, official, and final written Agreement that was reached between the Commission and the White House should be released to the American public in its entirety. The American public should be fully informed as to all legal restrictions and limitations placed within this Agreement
upon the 9/11 Independent Commission and their collective ability to access all information needed for their investigation. Furthermore, the mechanism by which this Agreement was reached should be fully released to the public. For example, who was involved in these negotiations? Were the terms of this agreement presented to all Commissioners and was a subsequent vote taken?

3. The Commission should issue a Statement to the American public fully explaining why this Agreement was chosen in lieu of issuing subpoenas to the CIA and Executive Branch to access these certain Presidential Daily Briefings.

4. The Family Steering Committee is committed to ensuring that the Independent Commission executes their mission statement in a full and unrestricted manner. The mission statement of the 9-11 Commission is as follows:

"The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks."

As it now stands a limited number of Commissioners will have restricted access to a limited number of PDB documents. This will prevent a full uncovering of the truth and is unacceptable.

=================================================================
5) White House Presidential Daily Briefings only tip of the iceberg

http://citypaper.net/articles/current/slant.shtml

EDITORIAL

Come Clean
Bush should fess up on 9/11.

By Kyle F. Hence

Whether we’re talking about pre-war intelligence or massive pre-9/11 failure, an insular government culture, and in particular, an administration that denies accountability while obscuring the truth behind claims of "Executive Privilege" is a grave danger to our national security.

There is no more serious threat to the integrity of the Constitution, and the national security it was intended to protect, than an Administration practicing excessive secrecy and obfuscation, especially when unchallenged.

That this pattern is seen in frustrated investigations of the Vice-president energy meetings, the CIA leak and Iraqi WMD is of concern enough. However, when the pattern is expressed relative to 9/11, on which the whole world turned, it merits serious concern and unprecedented action. Refusal by our President to come clean on pre-9/11 intelligence, and by our nation’s leadership to insist upon clear accountability, represents a particularly egregious breach of a sacred contract ? that between the people and their elected representatives.

President Bush must answer to the American people he serves. Unlike the Bush administration response to pre-attack intelligence and to multiple hijackings, the 9/11 Commission and the Congress must act promptly and decisively, to be sure he does. Business as usual in this case will neither inspire confidence in our, thus far, unaccountable leadership nor in our nation’s security.

The Commission’s current inquiry into the events of 9/11 is the most important and largest investigation this nation has ever undertaken. If previous ones are any indication they have their work cut out for them. Many faulted the Warren Report for ignoring, distorting or misinterpreting key evidence. As a result, the vast majority of Americans believe a wider conspiracy led to the assassination of President Kennedy -- believe Oswald didn’t act alone.

The case against Al-Qeada and Osama bin Laden is built either on circumstantial evidence or torture and drug-induced ‘confessions’ by alleged 9/11 accomplices interrogated in ‘undisclosed locations’ far from the public eye, neither seen nor heard. Meanwhile, circumstantial evidence, running counter to the official narrative, suggests a wider circle of complicity or foreign sponsorship that has, for the most part, been ignored.

It’s no wonder that today, millions around the globe, and not just on the Muslim street, don’t believe the official line coming out of Washington regarding what happened on 9/11 and why. They question foreign and domestic agendas, endorsed by both parties, that have unfolded since, that are leaving thousands of innocents either unjustly locked behind bars, without a lawyer; or lost on the battlefield in a bomb crater, without a voice. The numbers of Americans and others skeptical is significant and growing and their voices are beginning to be heard.

The Commission’s problems getting access to key documents from NORAD, CIA, FAA, and the White House has only added fuel to the fire. And so has the Commission’s failure to apply a high level of investigative vigor in a transparent and public manner. Shamefully, the Commission has bowed already under Administration pressure to allow government ‘minders’ to attend all closed interviews while failing to adequately explain why not a single witness has testified under oath.

Currently, it is the Commission’s subpoena threat over White House documents that is finally stirring overdue attention by the media on the unasked and unanswered questions of 9/11, questions far more weighty than those regarding the outing of CIA agent Plame or even Iraqi WMD. Again, 9/11 trumps them both, hands down. But all three illuminate a pattern of obstruction, deception and arrogance that has characterized this Administration. Every day that goes by with White House stonewalling only adds to suspicions a cover-up may be afoot.

The Administration has yet to be been called out for what has already been made public about pre-9/11 intelligence. According to published reports, the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) given the President on August 6, and being sought by the Commission, is titled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S." and specifically mentions ‘hijackings. Problem is, just after the attacks, the White House insisted there were no warnings. They lied. We’ve since learned from the Congressional Joint Inquiry and published press accounts that nearly a dozen nations issued specific warnings about targets, method, suspects and in one case timing.

But that is not all they lied about…on May 18th and19th after details from the August 6th PDB were leaked, Ari Fleischer, Condaleeza Rice and the President himself all assured the American public that while they were aware of the threat of traditional hijackings no one could have imagined planes could be used as weapons. Documents have emerged since to establish that in fact the intelligence community was well aware of this method of attack and had prepared for just a threat to the President at the early 2001 G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy. Again, they lied.

The 9/11 Commissioners, already granted security clearance, must see all relevant 9/11 documents in their entirety if they are to dispel the rising suspicion that the Bush Administration may be hiding evidence of egregious negligence to fulfill their duty to protect the American public. A pattern of obstruction and secrecy must not be allowed to stand. Not here. Not now. Not on 9/11.

*****************

Kyle F. Hence is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., and New York City-based watchdog 9/11CitizensWatch. If you would like to respond to this Slant or have one of your own (850 words), contact Howard Altman, City Paper editor in chief, 123 Chestnut St., third floor, Phila., PA 19106 or e-mail altman@citypaper.net.

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