Respinning September 11th
Vol: 47 Issue: 25 Thursday, August 25, 2005
Nearly five years after both political parties solemnly swore never to politicize the deaths of nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11, politicians on both sides of the aisle are doing little else.
The political furor over new stories involving alleged 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and US-bin Laden go-between Tarik Hamdi has fired up political spinmasters eager to find some way to blame the attacks on each other.
While the spin has dwelled exclusively around “anti-terrorism” the actual evidence trail seems to be purposely ignored. Probably because the trail leads directly to high-level US government officials and US intelligence agencies themselves.
According to newly unsealed court papers, Tarik A. Hamdi, an Iraqi-born American citizen and a former resident of Herndon, Virginia AND a direct and key American contact for Osama bin Laden, is now a member of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Ankara, Turkey.
According to the affidavit from Customs Agent David Kane, and facts confirmed by US authorities (including the FBI), Hamdi supplied a satellite telephone battery to bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan in 1998.
Hamdi worked as a double-agent for former CIA counter-terror chief Vince Cannistaro, who met Hamdi when Cannistaro worked for ABC News. Cannistaro met Hamdi through an ABCNews stringer named Rahimullah Yusufszai. It was Yusufszai who arranged for ABCNews reporter John Miller to get a TV interview with Osama bin-Laden in 1998.
Cannistaro was the other ABC News analyst who was escorted with John Miller to his bin Laden interview. Later, Cannistaro provided running news commentary in the days immediately following 9/11.
Cannistaro the news analyst, as a former CIA counterterrorism chief, provided covert aid to the Afghani mujahadeen in the late 80s, as well as supervising CIA operations with the contras. His ties with bin-Laden run deep.
Even more interesting is the fact that Hamdi had a close working relationship with the late Peter Jennings, who used Hamdi on his broadcasts as a Middle East ‘expert’. (That helps to explain why none of this information is running on ABC World News Tonight.)
Over the past decade, Hamdi has also served Anglo-American intelligence interests. He has gone from being a key bin Laden go-between, to becoming an official in the new Iraqi government, right under the nose of the authorities of several nations, including the CIA, the FBI, US law enforcement, and the US State Department.
Nobody is sure how Hamdi got his Iraqi government post. But Cannistaro remains in contact with Hamdi, and reportedly believes that Hamdi is being unfairly harassed by the Feds.
While ABC tries to spin away charges of collaboration with Osama (like CNN spun away the charges of collaboration with Saddam), the 9/11 Commission is spinning away its failure to consider the Able Danger report, running the gamut from “Able Who?” to “Yeah, we heard of it, but it wasn’t ‘historically important’.”
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and Congressman Curt Weldon (R-Pa) claim the 9/11 Commission ignored evidence that Shaffer claims he tried but failed to persuade the Defense Department and the Tampa, Florida-based Special Operations Command to share the information — information they say might have stopped 9/11.
In a statement, Commission chairman Thomas Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton stated that Able Danger program was not “historically significant, set against the larger context of US policy and intelligence efforts”.
Hmmm. Able Danger was created specifically to target al-Qaeda. Who is kidding whom, here?
Since Able Danger allegedly identified 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta in 1999, and Atta subsequently flew a hijacked airliner into the World Trade Center, (which was the focus of the investigation) how can Able Danger NOT be ‘historically important’?
According to Rep. Weldon in his book, Countdown to Terror, US intelligence knew about Atta since the early Clinton administration.
In 1998, Atta was living in a Hamburg apartment (later found to be an Al Qaeda cell) and under surveillance by German intelligence. The Germans were passing along what they knew to the CIA.
There is also growing evidence that Atta may have been known to U.S. intelligence as far back as 1993 and, according to the German press, the CIA itself had other people in the apartment under surveillance.
Writes Weldon, “Given the intelligence community’s poor track record and the political corruption of the intelligence process during the Clinton administration, the intelligence community’s failure to detect and stop the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington seems inevitable.”
It now appears that some members were briefed on Able Danger on two separate occasions, but declined to look into it further, because what they were told didn’t work with the 9/11 timeline they’d already decided upon.
Former commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said, The information that he provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing.
That certainly seems to define the Commission’s methods; decide the outcome, then ignore any facts that contradict it.
The 9/11 Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was put together to answer two questions: how did this happen, and how can we prevent it from happening again?
What it did instead was look for ways to blame the Bush administration, only eight months after his inauguration, and look for ways to exonerate the Clinton administration for ignoring the growing threat of al-Qaeda for eight years prior to 9/11.
The 9/11 Commission was set up as a bi-partisan committee, five Democrats and five Republicans. So people on all sides of the political spectrum were surprised when they issued a final report, which, if boiled down to a single sentence, would say, everyone and no one was to blame.
The 9/11 Commission ignored the fact that the Sudan offered bin-Laden to the Clinton administration in 1996 and Clinton refused the offer. That story has been spun and counterspun until it has taken on the texture of an urban legend.
But Clinton admitted himself in February, 2002, during a speech in Woodbury, New York. He said then:
At the time, 1996, [bin Laden] had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America. So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn’t and that s how he wound up in Afghanistan.
The Commission was headed by Jamie Gorelick. During her time as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, was responsible for creating the wall of separation that prevented law enforcement agencies from sharing information about investigations.
The commission determined that the lack of inter-agency cooperation, now mostly removed by the PATRIOT Act, was in part responsible for the failure to prevent 9/11.
Coordination and cooperation are essential in preventing terror attacks. It was the Gorelick wall that prevented the Pentagon from directly contacting the FBI with Able Danger s information about Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers.
If the 9/11 Commission had actually been looking for answers instead of seeking facts to fit preconceived conclusions, then Gorelick would have been a witness BEFORE the Commission, instead of being its chair.
So why the Clinton whitewash? Why the effort to hide any evidence that the government had any concrete intelligence prior to the Bush administration, or the effort to exaggerate the intelligence available to the Bush administration during its first eight months in office?
By the way, does anybody remember the situation when Bush came to office in 2001? His transition period was cut in half, when he assumed control of the White House, all the computers had been sabotaged, the White House had been trashed, and anything that might have been helpful to the transition team shredded. It was only eight months later that Osama struck.
From the outset, the Bush administration has gone to great lengths to cover up for the previous administration, from downplaying the GAO assessments of all the damage done to the White House and Air Force One by the departing Clintons, to making excuses for the muliple foreign policy failures they left behind.
The Bush administration endorsed the 9/11 Commission Report before it had even been released, and declared the matter closed.
But it isn’t closed, and the administration’s eagerness to bury the report’s shortcomings is puzzling.
It appears that everybody knows more than they are telling. Including at least a good part of the Bush administration.
It reminds me of that famous line from the movie, “A Few Good Men.” Jack Nicholson plays a Marine major being cross examined by Navy lawyer Tom Cruise, who angrily demands that the Major “tell the truth.” Nicholson, as the major, snarls, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
It gives one pause to wonder if the 9/11 Commission was really a case of life imitating art. And it raises the question; COULD America handle the truth, if it knew what it was?
If the political operatives on both sides of the aisle have their way, America may never have the chance to find out.