2005/02/12

9/11 Machinations

Kristin Bretweiser, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Centre, said yesterday the newly released details undermined testimony from Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser, who told the commission that information about al-Qa'ida's threats seen by the administration was "historical in nature".

She told The Independent: "There were 52 threats that were mentioned. These were present threats - they were not historical. There were steps that could have been taken. Marshals could have been put on planes that spring. Condoleezza Rice's testimony is undermined." To the consternation of members of the commission who published the original report last year, the administration has been blocking the release of the latest information. An unclassified copy of this additional appendix was passed to the National Archives two weeks ago with large portions blacked out.

The commission's report, issued last summer, detailed missed opportunities that, had law enforcement agencies acted differently, may have provided a chance to prevent the attacks. It also listed recommendations to prevent further attacks. It said the administrations of George Bush and Bill Clinton could have done more to stand up to al-Qa'ida.

But the details, first obtained by The New York Times, are the strongest evidence yet of the widespread warnings and officials' failure to take action. They also support claims by whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, who said she saw evidence that showed officials were aware of the al-Qa'ida threat before 9/11.

Independent

I, Sibel Edmonds, a concerned American Citizen, a former FBI translator, a whistleblower, a witness for a United States Congressional investigation, a witness and a plaintiff for the Department of Justice Inspector General investigation, and a witness for your own 9/11 Commission investigation, request your answers to, and your public acknowledgement of, the following questions and issues:

Read Sibel Edmonds letter to 9/11 commission chairman

When the Republican National Convention came to New York last summer, it indulged party loyalists and television viewers with saturation 9/11 pathos. Video tributes, firefighter memorials, misty-eyed speeches from Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik. No icon was off-limits. It set the tone for the campaign to come. We learn now, more than five months later, that this strategy of all-9/11 all the time had its limits: Muzzle the critical stuff.

Indeed, the former head of the FAA's civil aviation security branch, no less, was unaware of the government watch list dubbed "Tipoff," which conveniently included the names of two of the hijackers, who were living in San Diego. Do these findings reveal a government doing all it could to protect the public? Not in the view of the 9/11 commission. The pre-Election Day public, however, was constrained from learning of the panel's judgment.

Although the report of these findings was completed in August, the Bush administration marked it classified and blocked its release, over the objections of 9/11 panel members, who throughout their service pressed to keep commission findings in the public eye. A classified version of the report and a heavily redacted version were deposited in the National Archives two weeks ago, apparently without any notice — a generous nod to government secrecy.

Journal

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