Early review of Philip Shenon's book on the 9/11 Commission

30 January 2008

Commission Confidential

By Max Holland

In a revelation bound to cast a pall over the 9/11 Commission, Philip Shenon will report in a forthcoming book that the panel’s executive director, Philip Zelikow, engaged in “surreptitious” communications with presidential adviser Karl Rove and other Bush administration officials during the commission’s 20-month investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

Shenon, who led The New York Times’ coverage of the 9/11 panel, reveals the Zelikow-Rove connection in a new book entitled The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, to be published next month by Twelve Books. The Commission is under an embargo until its February 5 publication, but Washington DeCoded managed to purchase a copy of the abridged audio version from a New York bookstore.

In what’s termed an “investigation of the investigation,” Shenon purports to tell the story of the commission from start to finish. The book’s critical revelations, however, revolve almost entirely around the figure of Philip Zelikow, a University of Virginia professor and director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs prior to his service as the commission’s executive director. Shenon delivers a blistering account of Zelikow’s role and leadership, and an implicit criticism of the commissioners for appointing Zelikow in the first place—and then allowing him to stay on after his myriad conflicts-of-interest were revealed under oath.

Shenon’s narrative is built from extensive interviews with staff members and several, if not all, the commissioners. He depicts Zelikow as exploiting his central position to negate or neutralize criticism of the Bush administration so that the White House would not bear, in November 2004, the political burden of failing to prevent the attacks.

The Commission includes these specific revelations:

• Kean and Hamilton appreciated that Zelikow was a friend and former colleague of then-national security adviser Condoleeza Rice, one of the principal officials whose conduct would be scrutinized. Zelikow had served with her on the National Security Council (NSC) during the presidency of Bush’s father, and they had written a book together about German reunification. The commission co-chairmen also knew of Zelikow’s October 2001 appointment to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. According to Shenon, however, Zelikow failed to disclose several additional and egregious conflicts-of-interest, among them, the fact that he had been a member of Rice’s NSC transition team in 2000-01. In that capacity, Zelikow had been the “architect” responsible for demoting Richard Clarke and his counter-terrorism team within the NSC. As Shenon puts it, Zelikow “had laid the groundwork for much of went wrong at the White House in the weeks and months before September 11. Would he want people to know that?”

• Karen Heitkotter, the commission’s executive secretary, was taken aback on June 23, 2003 when she answered the telephone for Zelikow at 4:40 PM and heard a voice intone, “This is Karl Rove. I’m looking for Philip.” Heitkotter knew that Zelikow had promised the commissioners he would cut off all contact with senior officials in the Bush administration. Nonetheless, she gave Zelikow’s cell phone number to Rove. The next day there was another call from Rove at 11:35 AM. Subsequently, Zelikow would claim that these calls pertained to his “old job” at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

• The full extent of Zelikow’s involvement with the incumbent administration administration only became evident within the commission on October 8, 2003, almost halfway into the panel’s term. Determined to blunt the Jersey Girls’ call for his resignation or recusal, Zelikow proposed that he be questioned under oath about his activities. General counsel Daniel Marcus, who conducted the sworn interview, brought a copy of the résumé Zelikow had provided to Kean and Hamilton. None of the activities Zelikow now detailed—his role on Rice’s transition team, his instrumental role in Clarke’s demotion, his authorship of a post-9/11 pre-emptive attack doctrine—were mentioned in the résumé. Zelikow blandly asserted to Marcus that he did not see “any of this as a major conflict of interest.” Marcus’s conclusion was that Zelikow “should never have been hired” as executive director. But the only upshot from these shocking disclosures was that Zelikow was involuntarily recused from that part of the investigation which involved the presidential transition, and barred from participating in subsequent interviews of senior Bush administration officials.

• Some two months later, as Bob Kerrey replace disgruntled ex-Senator Max Cleland on the panel, the former Nebraska senator became astounded once he understood Zelikow’s obvious conflicts-of-interest and his very limited recusal. Kerrey could not understand how Kean and Hamilton had ever agreed to put Zelikow in charge. “Look Tom,” Kerrey told Kean, “either he goes or I go.” But Kean persuaded Kerrey to drop his ultimatum.

• In late 2003, around the time his involuntary recusal was imposed, Zelikow called executive secretary Karen Heitkotter into his office and ordered her to stop creating records of his incoming telephone calls. Concerned that the order was improper, a nervous Heitkotter soon told general counsel Marcus. He advised her to ignore Zelikow’s order and continue to keep a log of his telephone calls, insofar as she knew about them.

• Although Shenon could not obtain from the GAO an unredacted record of Zelikow’s cell phone use—and Zelikow used his cell phone for most of his outgoing calls—the Times reporter was able to establish that Zelikow made numerous calls to “456” numbers in the 202 area code, which is the exclusive prefix of the White House.

• Even after his recusal, Zelikow continued to insert himself into the work of “Team 3,” the task force responsible for the most politically-sensitive part of the investigation, counter-terrorism policy. This brief encompassed the White House, which meant investigating the conduct of Condoleeza Rice and Richard Clarke during the months prior to 9/11. Team 3 staffers would come to believe that Zelikow prevented them from submitting a report that would have depicted Rice’s performance as “amount[ing] to incompetence, or something not far from it.”

In Without Precedent, Kean and Hamilton’s 2006 account of the 9/11 panel, the two co-chairmen wrote that Zelikow was a controversial choice

. . . [but] we had full confidence in Zelikow’s independence and ability—and frankly, we wanted somebody who was unafraid to roil the waters from time to time. He recused himself from anything involving his work on the NSC transition. He made clear his determination to conduct an aggressive investigation. And he was above all a historian dedicated to a full airing of the facts. It was clear from people who knew and worked with him that Zelikow would not lead a staff inquiry that did anything less than uncover the most detailed and accurate history of 9/11.

Shenon’s radically different account of the commission’s inner workings promises to achieve what none of the crackpot conspiracy theorists have managed to do so far: put the 9/11 Commission in disrepute.

The Commission will be reviewed in the February issue of Washington DeCoded.

The Book

Also interesting by Max Holland


I didn't realize there were problems with how the 9/11 Commission's work was not printed by the Government Printing Office (GPO).

It doesn't look like this book will tell us much we didn't already know - Zelikow was compromised and covered for Rice's apparent incompetence. It looks like Max Holland thinks anything more than that is "crackpot conspiracy theory."

Interesting! Even ABC News is covering this story:


Consider mass emailing truth messages. More info here: http://www.911blogger.com/node/13321

Karl Rove + Zelikow = Bush Sponsored 9/11 Fairy Tale?

Karl Rove...? The man who said: “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” working with an expert at the creation of "public myths"... to create the 9/11 "fairy tale"? Everyone "failed", no one got punished and instead promoted, ignoring the laws of physics, war games, Building 7, molten metal, and insider trading.

Just before the 9/11 commission was opened....

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend—but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency. The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That's not the way the world really works anymore… We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”

Ron Suskind, Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush, New York Times, October 17, 2004

"Zelikow worked with Ernest May and Richard Neustadt on the use, and misuse, of history in policymaking. They observed, as Zelikow noted in his own words, that "contemporary" history is "defined functionally by those critical people and events that go into forming the public's presumptions about its immediate past. The idea of 'public presumption'," he explained, "is akin to William McNeill's notion of 'public myth' but without the negative implication sometimes invoked by the word 'myth.' Such presumptions are beliefs (1) thought to be true (although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_D._Zelikow
Arabesque: 911 Truth

Why should the public believe the 9/11 Commission report?

Zelikow had glaring conflicts of interest yet was chosen anyway. Hamilton admitted blaming individuals was too divisive so they went the 'systemic failure' route. Kean and Hamilton admitted Norad officials lied and the WH obstructed their investigation. Recently Kean, Hamilton and Zelikow accused the CIA of obstructing their investigation.


Hey LA, nice seeing you here

Hey LA, nice seeing you here and not just on myspace.


New book on 9/11 Commission

The book is available for preorder on AMAZON.COM, as is Dr. Griffin's new book. In fact, they offer a discount if you order both. Done! I have been anxiously awaiting further disclosure of Zelikow's role in sifting and winnowing what the Commission heard vs. did not hear; hopefully, now, more on this will come to light. With the heads of the Commission hellbent on distancing themselves from their work of late, this should add another timely log to the fire.

Thanks for letting us know about this. This is precisely why Michael's site is on my short list of daily visits!

Hank George

Key 9/11 Commission Staffer Held Secret Meetings With Rove


Key 9/11 Commission Staffer Held Secret Meetings With Rove, Scaled Back Criticisms of White House

zelikowA forthcoming book by NYT reporter Philip Shenon — “The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation” — asserts that former 9/11 Commission executive director Philip Zelikow interfered with the 9/11 report.

According to the book, Zelikow had failed to inform the commission at the time he was hired that he was instrumental in helping Condoleezza Rice set up Bush’s National Security Council in 2001. Some panel staffers believe Zelikow stopped them from submitting a report depicting Rice’s performance prior to 9/11 as “amount[ing] to incompetence.”

Relying on the accounts of Max Holland, an author and blogger who has obtained a copy of the forthcoming book, ABC reports that Zelikow was holding private discussions with White House political adviser Karl Rove during the course of the 9/11 investigation:

In his book, Shenon also says that while working for the panel, Zelikow appears to have had private conversations with former White House political director Karl Rove, despite a ban on such communication, according to Holland. Shenon reports that Zelikow later ordered his assistant to stop keeping a log of his calls, although the commission’s general counsel overruled him, Holland wrote.

Zelikow flatly denied discussing the commission’s work with Rove. “I never discussed the 9/11 Commission with him, not at all. Period.”

After completing his work with the 9/11 Commission, Zelikow was hired by Condoleezza Rice as Counselor at the State Department. He resigned from that position in late 2006. In 1995, Rice and Zelikow co-authored a book entitled, “Germany Unified and Europe Transformed.”

If a journalist is reading this

May I suggest you also look at this:

Paul Wolfowitz
“Paul Nitze’s Legacy: For a New World”
April 15, 2004 at the Aspen Institute

"When Don Rumsfeld and I had lunch with members of the 9/11 commission recently, one member asked what could they do to ensure that their report would make a real difference, that it would be read five or 10 years from now, instead of just filed away on a dusty shelf. I realize now that I gave them a pretty tall order. What I told them, basically, was to write something similar to George Kennan’s long telegram or Paul Nitze’s NSC-68. I told them that, rarely to my knowledge, has anyone other than historians with a specific interest in the subject, gone back to read the report of the Pearl Harbor Commission. NSC-68, on the other hand, is still studied in colleges and universities, including colleges for strategists like the war colleges of our military services or our National Defense University."

Max Holland, Disinformation Veteran

Holland works for the CIA. He has been spinning the JFK murder (by CIA) for decades. He actually edited the CIA's website.

"replace disgruntled ex-Senator Max Cleland on the panel,"

Yeah, that's all you have to say about Cleland. He was "disgruntled", like Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver.

This is an attempt to put a CIA spinmeister in the driver's seat (ABC, The Nation, Washington Decoded, etc) so as to get the story out ahead of the book, and to establish Max Holland as an authority on 9/11, unlike those "crackpots" who aren't on the payroll.

"The Lie That Linked CIA to the Kennedy Assassination
The Power of Disinformation"

Max Holland

Send in the clowns...

I think it's a mistake

to dismiss the entire book on the basis of some crumbs of suspicion about this or that author. Why not wait until the book arrives, and then judge the merit of its research?

I didn't say anything about the book.

Max Holland wrote the review posted above, not the book.

Now, read the post again.

BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week for Philip Zelikow

GOP Hypocrite of the Week for Philip Zelikow

(http://gophypocrite s.com/index. php)

_Philip Zelikow is BuzzFlash.com' s GOP Hypocrite of the Week_
(http://gophypocrite s.com/2008/ 02/hyp08005. html)

I am NOT a fan of BuzzFlash. But I like this.

I'd hate to be...

Those "crackpot conspiracy theorists" he's talking about. We've discredited the 9/11 Commission 1000x1000 over.

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