Friday, August 26, 2005

9/11 Commission Omissions Endanger Us

Standing with President George W. Bush, Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., addresses the media after the President nominated him to be the director of the CIA in the Rose Garden, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2004.
White House Photo by Joyce Naltchayan

This is the real story of the summer -- not Karl Rove, not Cindy Sheehan, not a sideshow. The real story of the summer is how a commission, filled with highly intelligent people, could have missed so much.[emphasis added]-- Omissions in 9/11 Report Hamper Fight Aainst Trrorism, August 22, 2005 BY MARY LANEY, Chicago Sun Times

This month has seen new revelations about intelligence gaps that could continue to be dangerous to all Americans. But beneath that troublesome surface lies some questionable goings on in the Bush administration of stonewalling and misdirection, alongside leaks and rumors.

Able Danger was a military intelligence unit set up by Special Operations Command in 1999. A year before the 9/11 attacks, Able Danger identified hijack leader Mohamed Atta and the other members of his cell. But Clinton administration officials stopped them -- three times -- from sharing this information with the FBI.

The problem was the order Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick made forbidding intelligence operatives from sharing information with criminal investigators. (Gorelick later served as a 9/11 commission member.) Jack Kelly: Able Danger -- now they tell us, August 14, 2005,Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In “Seeing What we want to See,” Terry McDermott, LA Times staff writer’s op-ed column claims that the “Able Danger” data mining expose is more of a rumormongering story full of holes. He shows that there are so many inconsistencies that Able Danger is not really an issue of CIA problems. He does conclude, however, that enough was known prior to 9/11 and is factually agreed to that something should be done to fix the intelligence gap:

Whatever the resolution of the Able Danger imbroglio, there were plenty of missed opportunities on the road to 9/11. German law enforcement knew in mid-1999 that Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, another Sept. 11 hijacker, were acquaintances of an Al Qaeda recruiter. This information was passed on to the CIA. The name of a third hijacker, Ziad Jarrah, was given to U.S. intelligence agencies in early 2000 when he was interrogated at length as he passed through
customs in the United Arab Emirates en route from Afghanistan to Germany. He told Emiratis he was going to the United States to become a pilot. The Emiratis say they passed this information to the Americans.

More famously, the CIA tracked two known Al Qaeda operatives through eight CIA stations from the Middle East to Malaysia, then somehow didn't notice as they walked onto a jetway and a plane bound for Los Angeles. We don't need to invent intelligence failures; we need to grapple with those that we already have.

Before the Able Danger business in mid-August, there was the Bush stonewall of 9/11 panelists seeking further information to voluntarily make sure the government was following up on their report’s recommendations.

The White House has failed to turn over any of the information requested by the 10 members of the disbanded Sept. 11 commission in their renewed, unofficial investigation into whether the government is doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, commission members said. The members said that the
Bush administration's lack of cooperation was hindering a project that was otherwise nearly complete…

... "It's very disappointing," Kean said of the administration's failure to cooperate with the group. "All we're trying to do is make the public safer." --Bush aides stonewall Sept. 11 panelists Administration officials fail to turn over follow-up data Philip Shenon, New York Times Sunday, August 7, 2005

This gets curiouser and curiouser. What has the administration got to hide? Everyone already knows they lied to congress, the American people, and the world, in order to go to war in Iraq.

The latest CIA ineptitude came out today in the form of leaks to the AP about a report to Congress Tuesday urging Porter Goss, CIA head, to start disciplinary proceedings against several higher-ups, probably including former CIA Director “Iraq WMD Slam Dunk” George Tenet.

CIA Director Porter Goss must decide whether to heed the recommendation of his top watchdog to hold disciplinary reviews for former CIA Director George Tenet and other current and former officials who were involved in faulty intelligence efforts before the September 11 attacks. The proceedings, formally called an
accountability board, were recommended by the CIA inspector general, John Helgerson, The Associated Press learned late Thursday. It remains unclear how many people beyond Tenet are identified for the accountability boards in the highly classified report spanning hundreds of August 26, 2005

It seems our government isn’t on the up and up with us, which in some cases of national security is OK. But based on these several news stories and the leaks of some classified information, there is a tendency to create rumors and start trouble where there wasn’t any before. And on a more sinister, cynical, paranoid vein of conspiracy and parallel realities, what do the administration higher-ups know, that they really don’t want us to know, that could be affecting each and every one of us, and not necessarily in a good way?

While our troops, money, and materiel stay in Iraq to “fight the war on terror,” terrorists could land on our doorsteps at any moment, without warning, because of the incompetent leadership and actions of the Bush regime. We the people are especially vulnerable right now, with no apparent opposition to Bush ready to offer an alternative. Indeed "This is the real story of the summer."

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