9-11 Commission dealt with several issues by simply ignoring them
by James Ridgeway
December 6th, 2005 11:07 AM
On 9-11 the U.S. government faced a terrible decision: Should the
military be ordered to shoot down other commercial airplanes full of
civilian passengers, so that they, too, would not be used as
missiles? Vice President Dick Cheney, although not part of the
National Command Authority, gave the orders, although under the
Constitution the vice president has no authority to command the
military. The 9-11 Commission dealt with this fundamental issue by
ignoring it. Among the other 9-11 topics the commission ignored:
? In the six months before 9-11, Federal Aviation Administration
senior officials received 52 intelligence briefings regarding threats
from Al Qaeda, warnings that mentioned hijacking, according to a
commission staff study. The study was not part of the final
commission report. The Bush administration blocked release of that
information until after the 2004 election, and well after publication
of the final commission report.
? The hijackers easily eluded CIA surveillance. Two of them landed in
California in 2000, where they were greeted by an FBI informant, who
actually rented one of the hijackers an apartment. FBI agents, then
under Louis Freeh, remained clueless?either the informant didn't tell
them what was going on or they didn't act on what they were told.
Efforts by the Joint Inquiry of Congress to interview the informant
were blocked by the FBI, which actually hid the man from
congressional investigators. Top FBI officials refused to take
subpoenas put in their hands by Senator Bob Graham. The 9-11
Commission never pursued this obvious obstruction of Congress.
? The Joint Inquiry traced the flow of money from the Saudi royal
family and government institutions to a Saudi spy in California who
had contact with the hijackers. The commission found Saudi Arabia
blameless, although behind closed doors the staff is said to have
demanded an airing of the situation.
Amid international outrage over the recent hotel bombings in Jordan,
11 top Jordanian intelligence officials, including the national
security adviser and a former prime minister, resigned. In contrast,
after 9-11, U.S. officials responsible for the nation's security were
promoted or got lucrative jobs outside the government. George Tenet,
head of the CIA during the worst intelligence debacle in the agency's
history, got a Medal of Freedom. FBI director Freeh left government
for private business and has written a book promoting himself as the
man who solved the mystery of the stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress.
Robert Mueller, his successor, blocked the congressional
investigation of the FBI's role in the California informant scandal.
Jane Garvey, head of the FAA on 9-11, left to take a position with
communications consultant APCO Worldwide, which carries this
biography of her: "Garvey's legacy as administrator includes leading
the FAA through one of the toughest chapters in all our history,
restoring America's confidence in air travel, and strengthening
airline safety. Under the leadership of Jane F. Garvey, U.S air
travel is safer, more efficient, and the FAA is poised for continued
James Ridgeway is the author of The Five Unanswered Questions about 9-
11 (Seven Stories Press).