What Qualifies As Suspicious Behavior?
As you read through these postings, I want you to keep this thought in the back of your mind. If you were President of the United States, or any member of Government, and 2,973+ people were brutally murdered on American soil, would you want to thoroughly investigate how and why this happened, and cooperate with said investigation to the best of your ability so as to make sure it never happens again?
Thanks to www.cooperativeresearch.org and simuvac.
December 21, 2001: Senators Introduce Bills to Create Independent 9/11 Commission
Two bipartisan pairs of senators introduce legislation to create independent 9/11 commissions. Senators Joe Lieberman (D) and John McCain (R) propose to create a 14-member, bipartisan commission with subpoena power. At the same time, Robert Torricelli (D) and Charles Grassley (R) propose to create a 12-member board of inquiry with subpoena power. White House spokeswoman Anne Womack is noncommittal about the proposals, saying, “We look forward to reviewing them. Right now, the president is focused on fighting the war on terrorism.” [New York Times, 12/21/2001]
January 24, 2002: Cheney and Bush Pressure Senator to Avoid 9/11 Inquiry
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) later claims that on this day, Vice President Cheney calls him and urges that no 9/11 inquiry be made. President Bush repeats the request on January 28, and Daschle is repeatedly pressured thereafter. Newsweek summarizes one of these conversations: “Bush administration officials might say they’re too busy running the war on terrorism to show up. Press the issue ... and you risk being accused of interfering with the mission.” [Newsweek, 2/4/2002] Cheney later disagrees: “Tom’s wrong. He has, in this case, let’s say a misinterpretation.” [Reuters, 5/27/2002]
May 23, 2002: Bush Opposes Special Inquiry into Terrorism Warnings
President Bush says he is opposed to establishing a special, independent commission to probe how the government dealt with terrorism warnings before 9/11. [CBS News, 5/23/2002] He later changes his stance in the face of overwhelming support for the idea (see September 20, 2002 ), and then sabotages an agreement that Congress had reached to establish the commission.
September 5, 2002: Senator Decries Lack of Government Cooperation in 9/11 Congressional Inquiry
Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, expresses doubts that the committee’s 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will be able to accomplish anything, and he supports an independent investigation. “Time is not on our side,” he says, since the investigation has a built-in deadline at the end of 2002. “You know, we were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted piece by piece.” He adds that there is explosive information that has not been publicly released. “I think there are some more bombs out there ... I know that.” [New York Times, 9/10/2002]
September 18, 2002: First 9/11 Inquiry Hearing Amidst Protests About Lack of Government Cooperation
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry holds its first public hearing. The inquiry was formed in February 2002, but suffered months of delays. The day’s testimony focuses on intelligence warnings that should have led the government to believe airplanes could be used as bombs. [US Congress, 9/18/2002] However, the Washington Post reports, “lawmakers from both parties ... [protest] the Bush administration’s lack of cooperation in the congressional inquiry into September 11 intelligence failures and [threaten] to renew efforts to establish an independent commission.” Eleanor Hill, the joint committee’s staff director, testifies that, “According to [CIA Director Tenet], the president’s knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified even when the substance of that intelligence information has been declassified.” She adds that “the American public has a compelling interest in this information and that public disclosure would not harm national security.” [Washington Post, 9/19/2002] Furthermore, the committee believes that “a particular al-Qaeda leader may have been instrumental in the attacks” and US intelligence has known about this person since 1995. Tenet “has declined to declassify the information we developed [about this person] on the grounds that it could compromise intelligence sources and methods and that this consideration supersedes the American public’s interest in this particular area.” [US Congress, 9/18/2002] A few days later, the New York Times reveals this leader to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/22/2002] An FBI spokesman says the FBI had offered “full cooperation” to the committee. A CIA official denies that the report is damning: “The committee acknowledges the hard work done by intelligence community, the successes it achieved...” [MSNBC, 9/18/2002]
September 20, 2002: Bush Changes Course, Backs 9/11 Commission
In the wake of damaging Congressional 9/11 inquiry revelations, President Bush reverses course and backs efforts by many lawmakers to form an independent commission to conduct a broader investigation than the current Congressional inquiry. Newsweek reports that Bush had virtually no choice. “There was a freight train coming down the tracks,” says one White House official. [Newsweek, 9/22/2002] But as one of the 9/11 victim’s relatives says, “It’s carefully crafted to make it look like a general endorsement but it actually says that the commission would look at everything except the intelligence failures.” [CBS News, 9/20/2002] Rather than look into such failures, Bush wants the commission to focus on areas like border security, visa issues, and the “role of Congress” in overseeing intelligence agencies. The White House also refuses to turn over documents showing what Bush knew before 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/22/2002]
October 10, 2002: Bush Backtracks on Support for Independent 9/11 Investigation
A tentative congressional deal to create an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks falls apart hours after the White House objected to the plan (it appears Vice President Cheney called Republican leaders and told them to renege on the agreement [New York Times, 11/2/2002]). Bush had pledged to support such a commission a few weeks earlier (see September 20, 2002), but doubters who questioned his sincerity appear to have been proven correct. Hours after top Republican leaders announced at a press conference that an agreement had been reached, House Republican leaders said they wouldn’t bring the legislation to the full House for a vote unless the commission proposal was changed. There are worries that if the White House can delay the legislation for a few more days until Congress adjourns, it could stop the creation of a commission for months, if not permanently. [New York Times, 10/11/2002] Another deal is made a few weeks later (see November 15, 2002) and the commission goes forward.
November 15, 2002: Congress Starts New 9/11 Investigation
Congress approves legislation creating an independent commission—the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States—to “examine and report on the facts and causes relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks” and “make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks.” President Bush signs it into law November 27, 2002. [US Congress, 11/27/2002] Bush originally opposed an independent commission (see May 23, 2002 ), but he changes his mind over the summer (see September 20, 2002 ) after political pressure. The Democrats concede several important aspects of the commission (such as subpoena approval) after the White House threatens to create a commission by executive order, over which it would have more control. Bush will appoint the commission chairman and he sets a strict time frame (18 months) for the investigation. [CNN, 11/15/2002] The commission will only have a $3 million budget. Senator Jon Corzine (D) and others wonder how the commission can accomplish much with such a small budget. [Associated Press, 1/20/2003] The budget is later increased (see March 26, 2003).
March 26, 2003: Bush Turns Down Increased Budget for 9/11 Commission
Time reports that the 9/11 Commission has requested an additional $11 million to add to the $3 million for the commission, and the Bush administration has turned down the request. The request will not be added to a supplemental spending bill. A Republican member of the commission says the decision will make it “look like they have something to hide.” Another commissioner notes that the recent commission on the Columbia shuttle crash will have a $50 million budget. Stephen Push, a leader of the 9/11 victims’ families, says the decision “suggests to me that they see this as a convenient way for allowing the commission to fail. they’ve never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon.” The administration has suggested it may grant the money later, but any delay will further slow down the commission’s work. Already, commission members are complaining that scant progress has been made in the four months since the commission started, and they are operating under a deadline. [Time, 3/26/2003] Three days later, it is reported that the Bush administration has agreed to extra funding, but only $9 million, not $11 million. The commission agrees to the reduced amount. [Washington Post, 3/29/2003] The New York Times criticizes such penny-pinching, saying, “Reasonable people might wonder if the White House, having failed in its initial attempt to have Henry Kissinger steer the investigation, may be resorting to budgetary starvation as a tactic to hobble any politically fearless inquiry.” [New York Times, 3/31/2003]
November 12, 2003: 9/11 Commission and White House Agree to Terms of Access
Senators of both parties have been accusing the White House of stonewalling the 9/11 Commission by blocking its demands for documents despite threats of a subpoena. [Associated Press, 10/27/2003] On this day, the White House and the 9/11 Commission strike a deal. The main issue is access to the presidential daily briefings given to President Bush . Under the deal, only some of the ten commission ers will be allowed to examine classified intelligence documents, and their notes will be subject to White House review. Some 9/11 victims’ relatives complain that the agreement gives the White House too much power. The Family Steering Committee complains, “All ten commission ers should have full, unfettered, and unrestricted access to all evidence.” It urges the public release of “the full, official, and final written agreement.” [Associated Press, 11/13/2003] Commissioner Max Cleland is unsatisfied with the deal and resigns a short time later (see December 9, 2003).
February-April 2004: Bush Administration Withholds Clinton Documents from 9/11 Commission
The Bush administration withholds thousands of documents from the Clinton administration that had already been cleared by Clinton’s general counsel Bruce Lindsey for release to the 9/11 Commission . [New York Times, 4/2/2004] In April, after a public outcry, the Bush administration grants access to most of the documents. [ Washington Post, 4/3/2004 ;Fox News, 4/4/2004 ] However, they continue to withhold approximately 57 documents. According to the commission , the documents being withheld by the Bush White House include references to al-Qaeda, bin Laden, and other issues relevant to the panel’s work. [Washington Post, 4/8/2004]
April 8, 2004: Rice Testifies Before the 9/11 Commission
National Security Adviser Rice testifies before the 9/11 Commission under oath and with the threat of perjury. The Bush administration originally opposed her appearance, but relented after great public demand. [Independent, 4/3/2004] In her statement she repeats her claim that “almost all of the reports [before 9/11] focused on al-Qaeda activities outside the United States. ... The information that was specific enough to be actionable referred to terrorists operation overseas.” Moreover, she stresses that the “kind of analysis about the use of airplanes as weapons actually was never briefed to us.” But she concedes, “In fact there were some reports done in ’98 and ’99. I think I was—I was certainly not aware of them...” [Washington Post, 4/8/2004] During heated questioning several subjects are discussed:
- Why didn’t counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke brief President Bush on al-Qaeda before September 11? Clarke says he had wished to do so, but Rice states, “Clarke never asked me to brief the president on counterterrorism.” [Washington Post, 4/8/2004]
- What was the content of the briefing President Bush received on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001)? While Rice repeatedly underlines that it was “a historical memo ... not threat reporting,” Commissioners Richard Ben-Veniste and Tim Roemer ask her why then it cannot be declassified. [Washington Post, 4/8/2004] Two days later the White House finally publishes it, and it is shown to contain more than just historical information.
- Did Rice tell Bush of the existence of al-Qaeda cells in the US before August 6, 2001? Rice says that she does not remember whether she “discussed it with the president.” [Washington Post, 4/8/2004]
- Were warnings properly passed on? Rice points out, “The FBI issued at least three nationwide warnings to federal, state, and law enforcement agencies, and specifically stated that although the vast majority of the information indicated overseas targets, attacks against the homeland could not be ruled out. The FBI tasked all 56 of its US field offices to increase surveillance of known suspected terrorists and to reach out to known informants who might have information on terrorist activities.” But Commissioner Jamie Gorelick remarks, “We have no record of that. The Washington field office international terrorism people say they never heard about the threat, they never heard about the warnings.” [Washington Post, 4/8/2004] Rice does not apologize to the families of the victims, as Clarke did weeks earlier. The Associated Press comments, “The blizzard of words in Condoleezza Rice’s testimony Thursday did not resolve central points about what the government knew, should have known, did and should have done before the September 11 terrorist attacks.” [Associated Press, 4/8/2004] The Washington Post calls “her testimony an ambitious feat of jujitsu: On one hand, she made a case that ‘for more than 20 years, the terrorist threat gathered, and America’s response across several administrations of both parties was insufficient.’ At the same time, she argued that there was nothing in particular the Bush administration itself could have done differently that would have prevented the attacks of September 11, 2001—that there was no absence of vigor in the White House’s response to al-Qaeda during its first 233 days in office. The first thesis is undeniably true; the second both contradictory and implausible.” [Washington Post, 4/9/2004]
April 29, 2004: Bush and Cheney Privately Meet with 9/11 Commission ; Decline to Provide Testimony Under Oath
President Bush and Vice President Cheney appear for three hours of private questioning before the 9/11 Commission . (Former President Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore met privately and separately with the commission earlier in the month. [Washington Post, 4/30/2004 ;New York Times, 4/30/2004]) The commission permits Bush and Cheney to appear together, in private, and not under oath. The testimony is not recorded. Commission ers can take notes, but the notes are censored by the White House. [Newsweek, 4/2/2004 ;Knight Ridder, 3/31/2004 ;New York Times, 4/3/2004] The commission drew most of their questions from a list submitted to the White House before the interview, but few details about the questions or the answers given are available. [Washington Post, 4/29/2004] Two commission ers, Lee Hamilton and Bob Kerrey, leave the session early for other engagements. They claim they had not expected the interview to last more than the previously agreed upon two-hour length. [New York Times, 5/1/2004]
July 22, 2004: 9/11 Commission ’s Final Report is Released; Conclusions are ‘Gentle’ on Bush Administration
The 9/11 Commission completes its work and releases its final report. They blame incompetence for the reason why the US government did not prevent the attack. The Washington Post summarizes the report, “The US government was utterly unprepared on Sept. 11, 2001, to protect the American people from al-Qaeda terrorists.” [Washington Post, 7/23/2004] The report itself states, “We believe the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004] The Washington Post reports, “Though openly dreaded for months by many Republicans and quietly feared by the White House, the report was much gentler on the Bush administration than they feared. Rather than focus criticism on the Bush administration, the commission spread the blame broadly and evenly across two administrations, the FBI, and Congress.” [Washington Post, 7/23/2004] More to the point, as former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke notes in a New York Times editorial, “Honorable Commission , Toothless Report,” because the commission wanted a unanimous report from a bipartisan group, “it softened the edges and left it to the public to draw many conclusions.” [New York Times, 7/25/2004] The Washington Post comments, “In many respects, the panel’s work has been closer to the fact-finding, conspiracy-debunking Warren Commission of the mid-1960s, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, than to the reform-oriented Church Commission , which exposed assassination plots and CIA abuses during the mid-1970s.” [Washington Post, 7/18/2004]
August 15, 2006: Former Heads of 9/11 Commission Release Book; Claim Their Commission was ‘Set Up to Fail’ by Bush Administration
Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, release a book giving a behind-the-scenes look at their 20-month investigation of the September 11 attacks. [Associated Press, 8/4/2006] They begin their book, titled Without Precedent, saying that, because their investigation started late, had a very short time frame, and had inadequate funding, they both felt, from the beginning, that they “were set up to fail.” [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 8/21/2006; Rocky Mountain News, 8/25/2006] They explain the difficulties they faced in obtaining certain government documents and describe how the commission almost splintered over whether to investigate the Bush administration’s use of 9/11 as a reason for going to war. It says that if original member Max Cleland—a strong proponent of this line of inquiry—had not resigned (see December 9, 2003), the commission probably would not have reached unanimity. It also calls their gentle questioning of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani during his May 2004 testimony, “a low point” in the commission’s handling of witnesses at its public hearings (see May 19, 2004). [Associated Press, 8/4/2006; New York Daily News, 8/5/2006; New York Times, 8/6/2006] Despite the problems it faced, when discussing his book with the CBC, Hamilton says he thinks the commission has “been reasonably successful in telling the story” of 9/11. [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 8/21/2006] Without Precedent, however, contains little new information about the events of 9/11. Intelligence expert James Bamford says there is “an overabundance of self-censorship by the authors.” [New York Times, 8/20/2006]
September 25, 2006: 9/11 Commissioner Reveals Secret Deal to Keep Bush and Clinton Testimony Secret until 2009
The 9/11 Commission interviewed presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in 2004 (see April 29, 2004) but the details of what was revealed in these interviews were not included in the commission’s final report (with one exception, see August 6, 2001). On this day, former 9/11 Commission Richard Ben-Veniste says, “I had hoped that we had—we would have made both the Clinton interview and the Bush interview a part of our report, but that was not to be. I was outvoted on that question. ... I didn’t have the votes. ... I think the question was that there was a degree of confidentiality associated with that and that we would take from that the output that is reflected in the report, but go no further. And that until some five years’ time after our work, we would keep that confidential. I thought we would be better to make all of the information that we had available to the public and make our report as transparent as possible so that the American public could have that.” [CNN, 9/25/2006]