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reprehensor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-11-05 04:50 PM
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Laurie Van Auken Transcript, July 22nd, on 9/11 Commission Failure.
(Moderators, this will soon be part of the Congressional record, so there should not be a copyright issue. Posting the whole thing. -r.)

Unofficial transcript of Laurie Van Aukens statement at the July 22nd Congressional Briefing: The 9/11 Commission Report One Year Later: A Citizens Response Did They Get It Right? Transcribed from audio capture.


Laurie Van Auken:

Good morning.

My name is Laurie Van Auken, I am speaking today on behalf of 9/11 widows Monica Gabriel, and Mindy Kleinberg who are with me here today.

On the morning of September 11th, my husband Kenneth was killed while in his office on the 105th floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center.

We extend our sincere thanks to you Rep. McKinney, as well as to all of those who are responsible for setting up this hearing, and giving us this opportunity today.

On the morning of September 11th I received the following message from my husband Kenneth:

(audio from answering machine message)

I love you, Im in the World Trade Center, and the building was hit by something. I I dont know if Im gonna get out, but I love you very much. I I hope Ill see you later, bye.

From his words, I knew that Ken survived the impact of the plane, so I tried to call him back, but there was no answer. I fell to my knees in a panic, still clutching the telephone. A moment later, when the phone rang, it startled me completely, I prayed that it was Ken, but it was my mother, she told me to turn the television on. I told her about Kens message. I told her that I couldnt reach him. I told her that I was very scared.

I watched the TV in utter horror as black smoke billowed out from the building through a gaping hole the size of an airplane. I knew that Kenny was in that building. I watched as the people ran from the World Trade Center, hoping for a glimpse of my husband.

Then the second tower was hit.

As I continued to watch, the breaking news, they showed the President sitting in an elementary school classroom. Juxtaposed with the footage of the black smoke coming from the World Trade Center, along with people jumping to their deaths from the burning buildings. I screamed at the television, Get up President Bush! Get up and do something! but he remained seated in a classroom of small children.

I watched as Andrew Card whispered something to the President, and yet, still my President remained seated in a room of small children, when our country was so obviously under a terrorist attack.

In between panic and hysteria, in between hoping that my husband would get out of the World Trade Center alive, and wondering how I would ever break this news to my children, I also wondered why the Secret Service was letting the President stay in the classroom full of children. Why didnt they whisk him away? It seemed as if every target in America was being attacked, so wasnt the President, the leader of the free world in danger of being fatally attacked as well? Werent the children who were in the classroom with the President in danger too?

After two days and hundreds of phone calls to New York City hospitals and to the Red Cross receiving no guidance, and absolutely no answers, my husbands employer, Howard Lutnik, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, recounted on a news program that no one who was in the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald at the time of the attacks had survived. That meant that Ken was gone. My looming and painful question as to whether or not my husband had survived was now answered.

We now knew that the time for hoping was over. Our lives were forever changed. My children would never again see their father, and I was now a widow. The grieving was just beginning. With what felt like a gaping hole in my heart, with two traumatized teens to now raise alone, I wondered if I would ever feel like eating, or breathing again. For me, one horribly sad question had been answered, but many more questions would soon follow.

The questions began to gnaw at me slowly at first; I wondered how on earth almost 2 hours could have passed with 4 domestic commercial airplanes flying around the skies of America without a response from our military.

I began to google search and read whatever articles and timelines I could get my hands on. Once I began my research into 9/11 I found it hard to leave the computer. Because I was unable to sleep, and because I needed desperately to reconstruct and understand the events of 9/11, it began to appear to those close to me that I was shackled to the computer. And I have to admit, in a manner of speaking, I was.

Having connected with a few other widows, it was not long before we were all researching the events, while we waited for an official inquiry into the attacks to be initiated.

Then the news came: Only intelligence agency failures would be examined.

How could that be? Our husbands were killed at their desks when commercial airplanes flew into their office buildings. They had no means of escaping, and had practically no chance of evacuating on 9/11. The buildings that were supposedly so magnificently designed, collapsed, in minutes. Why would the investigation of our loved ones murders be limited to only intelligence agencies? What about airline security? High-rise building security, and border security?

What about the FAA? The Port Authority? The Secret Service and NORAD, all of whom were partly to blame for the failures that allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur. Didnt those areas and entities need to be investigated too?

Incredulous, but undeterred, we realized that it was necessary to take a thorough and independent look at what had gone wrong on 9/11. Our children were going to have to grow up in this changed world, and we needed to make sure that this would never happen again.

We knew that with the 3,000 deaths on 9/11 there remained thousands of questions that needed to be answered, so, we fought for the creation of the 9/11 Commission. And with all of America by our side, we finally won that battle.

The Commission was passed into law in the autumn of 2002, and by January, 2003 the Commission finally sat down to commence its very important work.

The 9/11 Commissions report is one year old today. This report was supposed to provide the definitive account of what had transpired on September eleven, 2001. We hoped that our thousands of unanswered questions would be addressed and answered. Yet incredibly we have found that the Commissions definitive final report has actually yielded more questions than answers.

Moreover, there are still so many areas that remain unexplained, or are only vaguely touched upon by the 9/11 Commission, so much so that it was quite difficult for me to decide where I should start my testimony to you today.

1. The Timeline of 9/11 The Story of Seismic Information.

I will begin with what I had first hoped for from the Commission, I believed that we needed the official and definitive timeline for 9/11. One of my questions had to do with the time that Flight 93 officially crashed. The Commission report says United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania at 10:03:11am, and adds that the precise crash time has been the subject of dispute. In footnote 168 of Chapter One it says, We also reviewed a report regarding seismic observations on September 11th 2001, whose authors concluded impact time of United 93 was 10:06:05.

Seismic data reflects the time that the earth shook in response to the crash. Atomic clocks are used to record this data. I personally spoke with the men whose names appear on the seismic data report from 9/11. They received calls from the 9/11 Commission too. I asked the seismologists, Unless data existed that showed the earth also shook at 10:03am, how could the Commission have fixed the time of Flight 93s crash at 10:03?

They couldnt give me an answer.

Nor apparently could the commissioners in their final report. The crash of Flight 93 is one of the major events of 9/11. If we couldnt figure out what time that crash occurred, how could ever understand the real complexities of the day? Perhaps most alarmingly, what does this say about the quality of the rest of the report if the Commission could not accurately isolate this easily defined piece of information?

2. Warnings The Story of Ignored Warnings by Individuals.

At 1:47pm on September 11, 2001, while aboard Air Force One, Ari Fleischer was asked the following question by a press briefing pool, Had there been any warnings that the President knew of? Mr. Fleischer answered simply, No warnings.

No warnings.

From my simple research using google, on my home computer, I learned that there were plenty of warnings. For example newspapers in England, France, Germany and Russia reported that there were indeed many warnings delivered to the Bush administration throughout the spring and summer of 2001.

German intelligence warned both American and Israeli agencies that terrorists might be planning to hijack commercial aircraft, to use them as weapons and to attack important American targets.

During the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy during the month of July, 2001, Egypt warned of a plot to use airplanes to attack President Bush while he was there for the Summit. As an aside, this warning was taken so seriously that anti-aircraft missiles were deployed near the Columbus Airport in Italy.

Even ABC News reported Bush administration officials acknowledged that US intelligence officials informed President Bush weeks before the September 11th attacks, that bin Ladens terrorist network might try to hijack American planes.

Likewise, Newsweek reported that as many as 10 to 12 warnings were issued and more than 2 of the warnings specifically mention the possibilities of hijackings. Similarly, George Tenet was issuing many warnings that bin Laden was the most immediate threat to Americans.

Indeed, the Al Qaeda warnings were dire enough in May of 2001 to motivate President Bush to appoint Vice President Cheney to head a Task Force to combat terrorist attacks on the United States. As reported by the Washington Post, President Bush said that Vice President Cheney would direct a government-wide review on managing the consequences of a domestic terrorist attack. And Vice President Cheney was quoted as saying, I will periodically chair a meeting of the National Security Council to review these efforts.

But according to the Washington Post, neither Cheneys review, nor Bushs took place.

The 9/11 Report chose not to address any of the afore-mentioned warnings. And thus in my opinion did not answer the most important question, which was, With all of these warnings, why were we still so ill-prepared?

3. Dots Not Connected The Story of David Frasca.

It would seem that the Radical Fundamentalist Unit, the RFU, at FBI headquarters was in receipt of various pieces of information that if put together, should have allowed them to see that a threatening pattern involving persons of interest was emerging during the summer of 2001.

For example, the RFU was in receipt of the Phoenix Memo, the FBI memo that suggested there was a pattern of suspicious activity involving large numbers of Arab men taking flying lessons in American flight schools, and the FBIs file on Zacarias Moussaoui, an Arab man who was enrolled in an American flight school, and fit the profile of a terrorist.

While the 9/11 Commission goes into much detail about the facts surrounding the Phoenix Memo, and the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, they do not mention perhaps the most damning of all facts involving both issues, namely, that it was only two individuals at the RFU who received the Phoenix Memo and the Moussaoui information within weeks of each other. They subsequently and detrimentally blocked not only the dissemination of this information within the community, but also stymied further requested avenues of investigation within the community, of such vital pieces of information.

The 9/11 Commission summarily blames the failure to connect the two dots of the Phoenix Memo and Zacarias Moussaouis file on the FBIs institutional misunderstanding of the Reno wall, and the agencys inherent inability to share information across and throughout its ranks.

What is missing from this analysis and rather facile conclusion was that it was two individuals, who worked together, and not a misunderstanding of the Reno wall, that is to blame for the failure of the FBI to receive a FISA warrant in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui. It is likewise those same individuals who are responsible for the Phoenix Memo being downplayed and all but ignored.

FBI supervisor David Frasca and his underling, Michael Maltbie failed to permit FBI agents to request a FISA warrant for Moussaoui but also altered the agents initial request for it. Specifically, on August 28th, 2001, Maltbie edited the Minnesota FBIs request for a FISA warrant to search Zacarias Moussaouis possessions. The Minnesota FBIs field office wanted to prove that Moussaoui was connected to Al Qaeda through a rebel group in Chechnya. But the RFU agent Maltbie removed the information connecting the Chechen rebels to Al Qaeda.

Subsequently, the FBI General Counsel who received the edited request, scrubbed clean of any international terrorist ties, decided that there wasnt enough of a connection between Moussaoui and Al Qaeda to allow for an application for a search warrant through FISA.

Thus, a FISA warrant was never even applied for.

Later in a report released June 9th, 2005, the FBIs Inspector Generals office, far from downplaying this exchange cited a top FBI lawyers statement that, He had never seen a supervisory Special Agent in headquarters so adamant that a FISA warrant could not be obtained, and at the same time a field office so adamant that it could.

The report also noted that the Minneapolis field office sought an expedited FISA, which, it explained, normally involved reports of suspected imminent attack, or other imminent danger.

To reiterate, the first memo the supervisor of the Radical Fundamentalist Unit, David Frasco received, warned that Osama bin Laden was probably coordinating efforts to send men for flight training, (the Phoenix Memo), and only a few weeks later, Frasco received a file on a suspicious individual, Moussaoui, actually training at a flight school.

In essence, the Moussaoui case was actual confirmation of the Phoenix Memos prediction. And it was these same men, Frasca and Maltbie, who not only thrwarted the efforts of FBI agents to get a FISA warrant to search Moussaouis belongings, including his laptop, that had information leading to other 9/11 hijackers, but it was also Frasca and Maltbie who tampered with the papers requesting a FISA warrant.

Moussaouis laptop was finally searched after the 9/11 attacks. German telephone numbers were found, as was the name, Ahad Sabet. The numbers led the FBI to determine that the name Ahad Sabet was an alias for Ramzi bin Al-Shibh, former room-mate of Mohammed Atta, pilot of AmericanAirlines Flight 11, which crashed into Tower One, my husbands building, on 9/11.

Agents also discovered that Ramzi bin Al-Shibh had wired money to Moussaoui in the summer of 2001. In addition they found a document connecting Moussaoui with the Malaysian Yazid Sufaat, a connection that could have led them to 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi.

Those were two of the hijackers said to have crashed Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Both Almihdhar and Alhazmi lived in San Diego, California, had their names blatantly published in the San Diego phone book, and, had contact with individuals under FBI investigation.

At the time of Moussauouis arrest, one FBI agent commented in his case notes quite prophetically, that Moussauoui seemed like a man who is capable of flying airplanes into the World Trade Center. Sadly, the FBI agents were trying their best to follow these leads but for some unknown reason, FBI headquarters thwarted their own agents instead of thwarting the terrorists.

While several entries refer to Moussauoui in the Commissions Final Report, the Commission fails to discuss the Moussauoui case in a comprehensive manner.

For example, how could the Commission fail to mention that is was these two men, David Frasca and Michael Maltbie, at the FBIs Radical Fundamentalist Unit, who received the Phoenix Memo and then thwarted attempts to acquire a FISA warrant for Moussauouis computer?

How could the Commission remain silent on this matter when these men, Frasca and Maltbie, have since been promoted within the FBI?

Why didnt the Commission apply the axiom that, an agency is only as good as the people who work for it?

To quote Senator Shelby, they continue to reward bad behavior, and the results speak for themselves.

By leaving this highly relevant fact unaddressed, the Commission lays bare that its conclusion about the need for intelligence community reforms is half-baked at best, and hollow at worst.

4. The Hamburg Cell The Story of Marwan and the Phone Number.

Had David Frasca and Michael Maltbie not altered the FISA application it is likely that the FBI would have discovered the members of the notorious Hamburg Cell.

The Hamburg Al Qaeda cell was central to the 9/11 plot. Members of this cell included lead hijacker Mohammed Atta, who is said to have piloted Flight 11, 9/11 hijacker, Ziad Jarrah, 9/11 hijacker Marwan Al-Shehi who was said to have piloted Flight 175 and Ramzi bin Al-Shibh who wired money to the hijackers.

Further proof of the significance of the Hamburg cell can be found in the fact that in March, 1999, Marwan Al-Shehi had already caught the attention of German intelligence officials who were monitoring the telephone of Mohammed Haydar Zammar, an Islamic extremist in Hamburg, who was closely linked to important Al Qaeda plotters who ultimately masterminded 9/11 attacks.

The German intelligence officials gave the Central Intelligence Agency the first name of Marwan, and his telephone number, in the United Arab Emirates, and asked the CIA to track him. Nevertheless, according to the official record, CIA did nothing with this information.

Close surveillance of Marwan Al-Shehi in 1999 would have revealed his early connections to Flight 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, who was Mr. Al-Shehis roommate at the time. Both men has also attended the wedding of a fellow Muslim at a radical mosque in Hamburg in October, 1999. An event considered to be significant for the September 11th hijacking teams because it occurred at a time when the 9/11 plot was taking shape.

Yet the requested surveillance on Marwan never happened. It would seem that the director of the CIA at the time, George Tenet did not feel that they had enough information to be able to track down this terrorist. He has stated, The Germans gave us a name, Marwan, thats it, and a phone number.

The director of Central Intelligence replied, adding, They didnt give us a first and last name until after 9/11.

It seems unbelievable that with a first name and a phone number the CIA would not have even attempted to follow up on this lead. As columnist Maureen Dowd wrote, For crying out loud, as one guy I know put it, Ive tracked down women across the country with a lot less information than that.

Although Philip Zelikow the 9/11 Commission Staff Director as quoted as having said, the Hamburg cell is very important to the investigation of the September 11th attacks and intelligence on Mr. Al-Shehi is an issue thats obviously of importance to us and were investigating it, on February 24th, 2004 when we asked whether American intelligence officials gave sufficient attention to the information about Mr. Al-Shehi, Mr. Zelikow continued to say, we havent reached any conclusions.

5 months later when the Commission released its final report, no further conclusion or explanation for the CIAs failure to follow the German lead was noted. Why did the Commission ignore this important piece of information, and the CIAs failure to act on it?

5. Watchlisting Issues A Story of Surveillance.

An area that was addressed more thoroughly in the 9/11 Commissions Final Report was the matter of Pentagon Flight 77 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. However, because much of the information on these two important characters was found in the minute text of the Commission reports footnotes, learning the details requires a magnifying glass.

The Commission failed to explain how and why the CIA dropped the ball with information it acquired about the January, 2000, Terrorist Summit in Malaysia. It has been reported that the 9/11 attacks and the USS Cole bombing were planned at this meeting.

In attendance were key Cole bomber Khallad bin Attash and two of the would-be 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. Although the CIA identified the men as suspected extremists via their participation in the meeting with the identified Cole bombing suspect, the CIA inexplicably failed to request that the two men be placed on the governments watch list until late August, 2001.

By that time, Almihdhar and Alhazmi were already in the United States. And even though the men were living in San Diego listed by their correct names in the local phone book, and their landlord was an FBI informant, the Bureau stated that it did not learn of their whereabouts until after 9/11. From the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission report, we learn that the CIA intentionally kept the FBI out of the loop with regard to these two hijackers who were living in this country. Had someone in the CIA made the decision to not inform the FBI about these two 9/11 hijackers? And, if so, why did the 9/11 Commission bury it in a footnote, and not address why such action was taken?

The purposeful withholding of vital information by one intelligence agency from another intelligence agency is a type of failure that cannot be corrected or masked through simple re-organizational reforms of the intelligence community. Even a plain reading of the footnote detailing the CIAs dubious behavior raises serious questions that beg to be answered.

In July, 2005, in response to the 9/11 Public Discourse Hearing on Intelligence Agencies, we wrote a press release that included the following information with regard to Chapter 6, called From Threat to Threat.

Footnote #44 details an instance where a CIA desk officer intentionally withheld vital information from the FBI about two of the 9/11 hijackers who were inside the United States. This footnote further states that the CIA desk officer covered up the decision to withhold said vital information from the FBI. Finally, footnote #44 states that the CIA desk officer could not recall who told her to carry out such acts.

While several notable instances of this sort of intentional withholding of vital information from and among intelligence agencies are found throughout the 9/11 Commissions Final Report, we called special attention to four additional examples in our press release.

We did so with the hope that the 9/11 commissioners would now explain why the truth has not been revealed to the American public about one of our intelligence agencies ongoing surveillance of the 9/11 hijackers while they were living inside the United States in the 18 months leading up to the 9/11 attacks. The leads to Almihdhar and Alhazmi in San Diego were key, but perhaps even more relevant was the earlier gleaned information about Marwan Al-Shehi, because that information would have immediately unearthed the existence of the Hamburg cell, the epicenter from which the 9/11 plot was prepared.

According to testimony given in Germany after the 9/11 attacks, Al-Shehi was one of only four members of the Hamburg cell who knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand. Marwan Al-Shehi and Mohammed Atta traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 to train at an Al Qaeda training camp with several other September 11th plotters, and after returning to Germany Al-Shehi made an ominous reference regarding the World Trade Center to a Hamburg librarian, saying there will be thousands of dead, you will all think of me, German authorities said.

Soon afterwards Atta, Al-Shehi and another plotter, Ziad Jarrah began emailing several dozen American flight schools from Germany to enquire about enrollment. They arrived in the United States later in 2000 to begin flight training.

In its Final Report the Commission continues to perpetuate the myth that the CIAs failure to communicate with the FBI was some sort of institutional failure, and thus readily fixable by intelligence community reforms.

That notion is extremely harmful to our nation.

Why didnt the Commission address the intentional lack of communication between the CIA and the FBI?

6. Planes as Missiles The Story of the PDB.

In spite of many explicit warnings National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice claimed that the administration was never warned of an attack before 9/11. She went on national TV and stated, I dont think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use a hijacked airplane as a missile.

However as previously recounted there were many warnings that terrorists might use planes as missiles. How could the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States not have been aware of this possibility?

Further, why, if this was indeed a breakdown of communication within the Executive Branch of our government wasnt that addressed by the Commission? If the vital flow of information from the agencies to the National Security Advisor was somehow hampered wouldnt we need to understand how and why this was in order to make sure that the proper channels of information from and to the Executive Branch were operational in the future?

While Condoleeza Rice seems to have failed in her capacity as National Security Advisor to inform President Bush of such warnings, there were many others within the Presidents cadre of advisors who also could have advised him of the same information. Yet, on 5/17/02 President Bush also seemed to have no idea about the threat saying had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people.

And to our further dismay when Condoleeza testified before the Commission in April of 2004, we learned that on August 6th, 2001, the President had been briefed by the CIA about just such a possibility. Although Miss Rice argued during her testimony that the Presidential Daily Brief of August 6th, 2001, was historical in nature and didnt warn of a domestic threat, the title of the PDB was, Bin Laden Determined To Strike In the United States.

The title alone reveals that the document did indeed refer to a domestic threat, and was in fact, not a historical recap. At one point, to clarify and dispel the purely historical argument, I color-coded the PDB so that everyone could see exactly what parts of the PDB said that the threat was both domestic and current. I have done the same for this hearing.

The orange is the domestic threat, and where its highlighted in yellow, its in the present tense. Its current, on both pages.

An example of the current and domestic threat in the text of the August 6, 2001, PDB is the statement, Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparation for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of Federal buildings in New York.

Why did the 9/11 Commission fail to call Miss Rice to account for her deliberately misleading public statements?

Why wouldnt the Commission address the discrepancies between the sworn testimony and uncovered facts?

Not holding witnesses accountable for the veracity of their sworn testimony undermines the process.

7. Patterns of Hijacking The Story of 52 Warnings.

We also hoped that the 9/11 Commission would explain the patterns of hijacking language found in the PDB. Where did this information come from? Perhaps it originated with the FAA. The explanation was not found in the Final Report released on July 22nd, 2004. Months later when the 2nd monograph was finally made public that the Commission had produced, we learn that there had been actually 52 warnings issued by the FAA during the 6 months preceding 9/11.

So when on September 11th, 2001, Ari Fleischer, the White House Press Secretary said there were no warnings, what could he have possibly meant? And what exactly did our government do with the 52 warnings it received during the summer of 2001? If nothing was done regarding said warnings, why was that? And whose job was it to make sure that appropriate defensive action was taken?

At the very least directives could have been issued to airport screeners to be on the lookout for certain types of suspicious behaviors.

On February 11th, 2005, in response to the Commissions release of its FAA monograph, we sent out another press release. We stated, Notably missing from this monograph is any information pertaining to NORADs failure to scramble jets in a timely manner, which leads us to wonder what else is being withheld from the public?

We went on to state, Of the 105 warnings issued, 52 warnings regarding Al Qaeda were given to the FAA by the intelligence community in a 6 month period from April, 2001, to September, 2001. According to the 9/11 Commissions Final Report there were 8 information circulars put out by the FAA between July 2nd and September 10th, 2001. 5 of these information circulars targeted overseas threats, while the remaining 3 targeted domestic threats.

And finally, we stated, The 52 threats regarding Al Qaeda were not received by the FAA in a vacuum. From March, 2001 to September, 2001 according the Joint Inquiry of Congress our intelligence community received at least 41 specific threats of a possible domestic attack by Al Qaeda.

Additionally, the FAA was also made aware of the August 15th 2001 arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, and finally, the FAA attended a high-level meeting on July 5th 2001, where the domestic threat posed by Al Qaeda was discussed by all relevant intelligence agencies.

The FAA monograph reveals that in the spring of 2001, the FAA had already determined that if the intent of the hijacker was not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable. It would seem that in the summer of 2001 there were indeed enough warnings and concerns that all agencies should have been put on alert. Action should have, and could have been taken.

Nevertheless the 9/11 Commission never once reflected upon whose job it was to coordinate all those pieces of evidence. They also left unaddressed the fact that with all this information floating throughout the agencies in the summer of 2001, why didnt our National Security Council convene to discuss the very pertinent, very relevant issue of terrorism until September 4th, 2001, a mere 7 days before 9/11?

8. Accountability The Story of the Lack Thereof.

To date, no one has ever been held accountable for 9/11. Government officials who failed in their jobs were promoted, and given medals. Terrorists have yet to be indicted or successfully prosecuted even the so-called masterminds Ramzi bin Al-Shibh and Khalid Sheik Mohammed have yet to be prosecuted. And Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, evading capture.

When we learned that German prosecutor Dr. Krauss was scheduled to testify before the 9/11 Commission in June of 2004, I wrote the following email and sent it off to the commissioners;

I am especially interested in learning what the German prosecutor Dr. Krauss thought about the US government not turning over people such as Ramzi bin Al-Shibh, or transcripts of his interrogation, who is reportedly in US custody at a secure location. This lack of cooperation by the US Government made it impossible for the German courts to successfully prosecute Mr. Mzoudi, who was put on trial in Germany for crimes related to 9/11.

Dr. Krauss never did testify before the Commission. Our questions for him regarding the lack of cooperation between the US government and the German government which led to the release of the suspected terrorists Mzoudi and Motassadeq also remain unanswered.

The Commissions report only tells us that Mzoudi and Motassadeq witnessed the execution of Mohammed Attas will. If these two men were truly involved in the 9/11 plot, why didnt the US Government turn over all of the evidence in their possession in order to convict these two men?

Why would our government refuse to cooperate with the German government in order to help incarcerate such known terrorists?

Why did the 9/11 Commission report fail to address this in a substantive manner?

And, more pointedly, how will we ever win the War on Terror without prosecuting and holding terrorists accountable?

9. Air Defense The Story of NORADs Belated Response.

In other defense capacities on the morning of 9/11 the Commissions report discusses the actions of the FAA, NORAD and MEADS. In particular I make reference to footnote #116 on page 458 which says that on 9/11 NORAD was scheduled to conduct a military exercise, Vigilant Guardian which postulated a bomber attack from the former Soviet Union.

We investigated whether military preparations for the large scale exercise compromised the militarys response to the real-world terrorist attack on 9/11. Accordingly the newly sworn in Joint Chiefs of Staff General Eberhart said that it took the military about 30 seconds to make the adjustment to the real-world situation.

But the following words which show there was confusion have troubled me since my research began. This comes from the Commission report, from the day of 9/11 transcript:

MEADS: Is this real-world or exercise?

FAA: No, this not an exercise. Not a test.

On page 20, we note more confusion. MEADS did not know where to send the alert fighter aircraft and the officer directing the fighters pressed for more information:

I Dont know where Im scrambling these guys to, I need a direction, a destination.

And on page 26, NORAD heard nothing about the search for American 77, instead the MEADS air defenders heard renewed reports about a plane that no longer existed, American 11.

At 9:21 MEADS received a report from the FAA:

FAA Military Boston Center: I just heard a report that American 11 is still in the air and on its way heading toward Washington.

MEADS: Ok. American 11 is still in the air?

FAA: Yes.

MEADS: On its way toward Washington?

FAA: That was another- there was evidently another aircraft that hit the tower. Thats the latest report we have.


FAA: Im gonna try to confirm an ID for you but I would assume hes somewhere over uh, New Jersey or somewhere further south.

MEADS: Ok. So American 11 isnt the hijack at all, then?

FAA: No, hes a hijack.

MEADS: American 11 is a hijack?

FAA: Yes.

MEADS: And hes heading into Washington?

FAA: Yes. This could be a third aircraft.

The mention of a third aircraft was not a reference to American 77. As the Commission report says, there was confusion at that moment in the FAA. And General Eberharts claim that the military exercises somehow made the military better prepared on 9/11 does not ring true.

Instead it appears that the concurrent military exercises completely confused everyone. Flight 11 was the flight that hit the first building at the World Trade Center in New York City. Thus far we are still waiting for the monograph on the failures of NORAD that the Commission said it would produce.

10. Toothless Investigation The Story of Subpoena Power Not Used.

While the Department of Defense and others were threatened with subpoenas for not being forthcoming with information requested, we were of the mindset that all known evidence pertaining to September 11th, should have been subpoenaed by the Commission from the outset, with no exceptions. Which, by the way, was the mandate of the 9/11 Commission.

No stones should have remained unturned. And yet, this was not the case. For example with regard to videos that recorded the Pentagon crash, we knew of at least 3 versions of videos that record the crash of Flight 77. Yet only one version ever made its way into the public domain.

That version had the date stamp of 9/12 instead of 9/11/01. The time stamp is repeated on 2 of the 5 frames while the times on the other frames were missing. We had read in National Geographic about the second video that was recorded by cameras located at the Sheraton Hotel overlooking the Pentagon. We also read about the 3rd video recording that showed the crash from the nearby Nexcom Gas Station security camera.

We asked the Commission, specifically Team 8, to subpoena for these videos, and just before the Commission released its final report, we met with some of them. They told us that they had not subpoenaed for this evidence but had instead issued document requests which were never answered.

This seeming lack of persistence on the part of the Commission to collect all known evidence is worrisome. Again, if they were unwilling to go after even easily obtainable evidence, what other critical and more difficult pieces of the story were they missing?

How was one to feel comfortable with their investigation, knowing that they were not aggressively pursuing the most tangible of evidence or information?

Also missing from the Commissions definitive report was the testimony from national security whistleblowers who had tried to testify before the Commission, but where either not asked to testify or their testimony was only barely acknowledged, or worse yet, completely omitted from the record.

This list includes:

Robert Wright, FBI Agent, whom the FBI refused to allow to testify, and the Commission did not subpoena him.

John M. Cole, FBI Counterintelligence who had pertinent information with regard to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the 9/11 attacks. He notified the 9/11 Commission during its tenure but never received a response back from them.

Coleen Rowley, FBI Division Council, the FBI commission did not interview her and chose instead to rely on transcripts from the Joint Senate House Intelligence Inquiry.

Mike German, FBI Counterintelligence, in February, 2004 his name and contact information were provided to the Commission as a key witness, but they never called him to testify.

Mark Burtons, Senior Analyst at NSA, he provided dozens of pages of information and testimony to the 9/11 Commission but was ignored, and was never invited to testify.

Aris Ashar, Language Specialist at the FBI, he was refused twice by the Commission to testify but finally did testify however, his testimony was omitted from the final report.

This list is in no way complete, rather, its just a small sample of the legitimate witnesses or corroborators of valuable 9/11 information that they tried to provide to the Commission. But they were instead turned away.

Knowing full well that the best source of how an agency really works would entail talking to the people who actually work there, why is it that the Commission refused these key witnesses an opportunity to tell what they knew?

How could the Commission be trusted to make the right decisions without obtaining all pertinent information?

Worse yet, what happens when the Commission actively and knowingly ignores that information?

One whistleblower that we made sure the Commission met with, was FBI Translator Sibel Edmonds. It was only when we walked her into the Commissions offices that they agreed to hear what she had to say in a closed hearing.

Once the report was released, Sibel read it with great hope. Disappointed in the Commissions failure to address her very real concerns, she wrote, in an open letter, Unfortunately, I find your report seriously flawed in its failure to address serious intelligence issues that I am aware of, which have been confirmed, and which as a witness to the Commission, I have made you aware of. Thus, I must assume that other serious issues that I am not aware of were in the same manner omitted from your report. These omissions cast doubt on the validity of your report and therefore, on its conclusions and recommendations.

A thorough and definitive investigation by the Commission would have addressed all of her concerns, and spoken to all of the whistleblowers. It would have subpoenaed for the information it required and examined the plethora of information that other citizens and groups responsible provided.

And finally, without compromising our national security, it would have reported all of its findings, with its redactions blacked out and submitted to the American people. In essence, the Commission could have produced a final product where the resulting conclusions and recommendations could be trusted. Instead, at the end of the day, what we got were some statements that truly insulted the intelligence of the American people. Violated our loved ones memories, and might end up hurting us, one day soon.

One such statement is that 9/11 was a failure of imagination. A failure of whose imagination? What exactly does that mean? When you have a CIA director with his hair on fire, a system blinking red, 52 FAA warnings, an August 6th, 2001, PDB entitled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States, leads on several 9/11 hijackers including Alhazmi, Almihdhar and Marwan Al-Shehi, warnings from many foreign governments, a Phoenix memo warning of Islamic extremists taking flying lessons, the arrest of would-be terrorist Zacarias Moussauoui, facts imparted to one agent, Agent Frasca at the RFU at the FBI, 9/11 was truly a failure alright.

But I would certainly not call it a failure of imagination.

Once again these warnings and threats were not received in a vacuum. Nor were they so common an occurrence that they should have been ignored in the wholesale and brazen manner in which they were.

To me it seems rather clear that there were enough warnings making their way to the appropriate people that meant that the proverbial dots should have and could have been connected. And thus, in light of all the incoming information in 2001, exactly whose failure was it to understand that our new enemy was terrorism, exactly who failed us by not having the agencies do anything in a defensive posture to protect Americans from just this possibility?

Another outrageous statement made at the time of the release of the 9/11 Final Report that got a fair amount of media coverage was the one, Everyones to blame, therefore, no ones to blame.

The problem with that assumption is that it creates a no-fault government. And a no-fault government does nothing to ensure that things will be different, or better in the future. When you hold people accountable, it serves as a deterrent for those who would repeat those same behaviors in the future.

For the record, I would like to see that assumption re-stated to read, Everyones to blame, therefore, everyones to blame. In fact, the fact that there has been no accountability for the failures that have led to the deaths of almost 3,000 people is truly unconscionable, and irresponsible on the part of all of our nations leaders.

So what do we do now? The tools of democracy available to the citizens of America to address these issues are incredibly limited. We asked for an independent commission to investigate 9/11, because that was the only--- (audio lost)

We spent 14 months collecting information and lobbying for the creation of the Commission. And another 20-plus months monitoring the Commissions work. Forwarding any and all research, making sure to send along our questions for the witnesses who were questioned, attending the hearings, making phone calls and lobbying for the extensions of time and money sending thousands of emails, all in the hope that in the end, Americans could feel confident that we had indeed the definitive story of 9/11.

Sadly, as Americans, we have all been let down.

On the morning of 9/11, I lost my husband and best friend of almost 16 years. My two children, Matt and Sarah lost their beloved father on that terrible day. And from that horrible day of September 11th, 2001, it has been made clear that not allowing for truth and justice to prevail America may have forever lost her way.

For those who might question the reasoning and importance for re-examining the Commissions report, the events that led up to, and the day of, September 11th, one only has to recall the enormous ramifications that the attacks of September 11th have had upon our country. Our leaders have almost overnight reformed government agencies and instituted innumerable laws in the interests of national security and our living in a post 9/11 era. Some, like the controversial P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, were forced through Congress without the benefit of Congressional debate to determine its necessity, and effectively find the balance between national security and our civil liberties.

More lethally, our foreign policy has shifted to one of pre-emption, and thus we are at war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. With so many of our good men and women serving in the armed forces have lost their lives or come home forever maimed. It is important to look back because in order for our leaders to make wise decisions about the changes we are instituting, we must understand what it was exactly, that went wrong, that allowed our nation to become so vulnerable to terrorism.

And we should not feel it improper to re-examine the investigations and decisions already made especially in light of the fact that right after the 9/11 attacks, our leaders went full-speed ahead with so many changes. Most without the benefit of much of the information that has only recently been made available.

Again, with lives on both sides of the equation, we cannot afford to be wrong, or caught off-guard, either there, or here at home, like we were on the morning of 9/11.

Thus, only an honest re-evaluation of how the 9/11 attacks could have happened, will allow us to reverse the adverse consequences and overreaching laws and the existing loopholes in our security systems in order to allow us to be safer in the future.


Take the time to contact c-span, and ask them to please air their footage of the Briefing, ASAP. Pass it around.
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-11-05 05:33 PM
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1. The story of 9/11 is not going away.
We know that the 9/11 commission was a whitewash to protect the principle actors. They knew it was going to happen and let hen do it to get their PNAC plan underway.

Failure of Imagination? Just the opposite. They imagined 9/11 to cover their invasion of the ME. And guess what? happended.
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