Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Whitewash': 9/11 Director Gave Evidence to Own Inquiry
by Shaun Waterman

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The panel set up to investigate why the United States failed to prevent the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was rocked Thursday by the bizarre revelation that two of its senior officials were so closely involved in the events they are investigating that they have had to be interviewed as part of the inquiry.

Did he interview himself about his own role in the failures that left us defenseless? This is bizarre. We entered a looking glass world on Sept. 11 and we're still in it.

Lori Van Auken, who lost her husband on 9/11
Philip Zelikow, the commission's executive director, worked on the Bush-Cheney transition team as the new administration took power, advising his longtime associate and former boss, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, on the structure of the incoming National Security Council.

"He came forward in case he might have useful information," said commission spokesman Al Felzenberg.

Zelikow, who the commission says has withdrawn himself from those parts of its investigation directly connected with the transition -- a process known as recusal -- was also appointed to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in October 2001.

The board provides the White House with advice about the quality, adequacy and legality of the whole spectrum of intelligence activities.

Jamie S. Gorelick, one the 10 members of the commission and the other official who has answered investigators' questions, was a senior official under Attorney General Janet Reno in the Clinton administration.

"(Zelikow) recused himself from those relevant parts of the inquiry," said Felzenberg. "Frankly, we don't see what the fuss is about."

But the revelations have been greeted with dismay by the commission's critics, especially survivors and relatives of the dead, because they suggest the investigation will be -- in the words of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband Ron in tower 2 of the World Trade Center -- "a whitewash."

The families have said for many months that they are unhappy with Zelikow's role, and are furious that they were not told he would be giving evidence.

"Did he interview himself about his own role in the failures that left us defenseless?" asked Lori Van Auken, the widow of Kenneth. "This is bizarre.

"We entered a looking glass world on Sept. 11 and we're still in it."

The news is a particularly sharp blow to the commission's credibility because Gorelick and Zelikow are the two officials to whom the White House has granted the greatest access to the most secret and sensitive national security documents of all, the presidential daily briefings.

Last year, officials acknowledged that one such briefing in August 2001, more than a month prior to the attacks, warned that al-Qaida was determined to strike in the United States. Some reports suggested that hijacking -- and even the use of airplanes as missiles -- was mentioned as the mode of assault.

The question of the transition is a significant one, because critics of President Bush say the incoming administration "dropped the ball" on the fight against Osama bin Laden, which had been ramping up under President Clinton after a suicide attack by the al-Qaida network nearly destroyed the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000.

Bush's supporters counter it was Clinton's failure to capture or kill bin Laden after his network destroyed two U.S. embassies in east Africa in 1998 that emboldened the extremists to attack the United States on Sept. 11.

The families planned a meeting on the issue Thursday evening with commission members and staff, which one predicted would be a "slugfest."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bin Laden says he wasn't behind attacks

After all that has happened since then- I have to say I believe him.

September 17, 2001 Posted: 11:21 AM EDT (1521 GMT)

DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- Islamic militant leader Osama bin Laden, the man the United States considers the prime suspect in last week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, denied any role Sunday in the actions believed to have killed thousands.

In a statement issued to the Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, bin Laden said, "The U.S. government has consistently blamed me for being behind every occasion its enemies attack it.

"I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons," bin Laden's statement said.

"I have been living in the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders' rules. The current leader does not allow me to exercise such operations," bin Laden said.
Attack on America

Timeline: Who Knew What and When? FEMA arrived the night before, so they knew; Condi Told Ashcroft not to fly, so she knew- George was having reading lessons- no telling what he knew and Cheney took over all the Generals control of flights in June of 2001.
Interactive: Terror Investigation Um, It was Gov. Planned
Terror Warnings System When they start talking about peak oil- or no warning at all, unless Marvin's contract ends somewhere else soon
Most wanted terrorists George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Chevron Rice
What looks suspicious? The Official Story
In-Depth: America Remembers America puts the pieces together
In-Depth: Terror on Tape Who filmed the WTC's and why was the Pentagon's tapes Confiscated by the FBI?
In-Depth: How prepared is your city? Not very- I am 2 hours from Washington, DC
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands? No, they quit- they went for oil
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk They talk, how about getting US Government to tell the truth?

Osama bin Laden

Asked Sunday if he believed bin Laden's denial, President Bush said, "No question he is the prime suspect. No question about that."

Since Tuesday's terrorist attacks against the United States, Bush has repeatedly threatened to strike out against terrorism and any nation that supports or harbors its disciples.

Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi-born exile, has lived in Afghanistan for several years. U.S. officials blame him for earlier strikes on U.S. targets, including last year's attack on the USS Cole in Yemen and the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

Bin Laden's campaign stems from the 1990 decision by Saudi Arabia to allow U.S. troops into the kingdom after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait -- a military presence that has become permanent.

In a 1997 CNN interview, bin Laden called the U.S. military presence an "occupation of the land of the holy places."

Immediately after the attacks that demolished the World Trade Center's landmark twin towers and seriously damaged the Pentagon, officials of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban said they doubted bin Laden could have been involved in carrying out the actions.

The Taliban -- the fundamentalist Islamic militia that seized power in Afghanistan in 1996 -- denied his ties to terrorism and said they have taken away all his means of communication with the outside world.

The repressive Taliban regime has received almost universal condemnation, particularly for their harsh treatment of women. Only three countries, including Pakistan, recognize them as the country's rightful government.

A high-level Pakistani delegation was set to travel to Afghanistan on Monday to urge Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar to hand over bin Laden, CNN learned Sunday.

The Taliban, which controls more than 90 percent of the country, has threatened any neighboring country that allows its soil to be used to help the United States stage an attack on Afghanistan.