Skip to comments.Atta way to blow 9/11 panel's credibility [Mark Steyn]
Posted on 08/14/2005 4:32:45 PM PDT by Forgiven_Sinner
If you want to know everything wrong with the 9/11 Commission in a single sound bite, consider this from Al Felzenberg, its official spokesman, speaking Wednesday:
''There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn't give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report. This information was not meshing with the other information that we had.''
In fairness to Felzenberg, he was having a bad week, and a hard time staying on top of the commission's ever-shifting version of events. It emerged that the U.S. military had fingered Mohammed Atta -- the guy who plowed Flight 11 into the first World Trade Center tower -- well over a year before before 9/11. Or as the Associated Press puts it:
"A classified military intelligence unit called 'Able Danger' identified Atta and three other hijackers in 1999 as potential members of a terrorist cell in New York City."
At first, the commission denied that it knew anything about "Able Danger": "The Sept. 11 Commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell," insisted Lee Hamilton, the Democratic co-chair. "Had we learned of it, obviously, it would've been a major focus of our investigation."
But within 48 hours this version was non-operative. As the AP subsequently reported: "The Sept. 11 Commission knew military intelligence officials had identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as a member of al-Qaida who might be part of U.S.-based terror cell more than a year before the terror attacks but decided not to include that in its final report, a spokesman acknowledged Thursday."
So, far from being a "major focus" that they just happened to miss -- coulda happened to anyone -- it turns out they knew about it but "decided not to include" it.
How'd that happen? Well, as Felzenberg says so disarmingly, "this information was not meshing with the other information.'' As a glimpse into the mindset of the commission, that's astonishing. Sept. 11 happened, in part, because the various federal bureaucracies involved were unable to process information that didn't "mesh" with conventional wisdom. Now we find that the official commission intended to identify those problems and ensure they don't recur is, in fact, guilty of the very same fatal flaw. The new information didn't "mesh" with the old information, so they disregarded it.
But, hey, let's not have a philosophical discussion, let's keep it practical: There was "no way" that Atta could have been in the United States except when the official INS record says he was? No INS paper trail, "no way" he could have got in?
Here's one way just for a start. Forget the southern border, insofar as there is such a thing. Fact: On America's northern border, no record is kept of individual visitors to the United States. All that happens is that a photo scanner snaps your rear license plate. The scanner is said to be state-of-the-art, which is to say, as one Customs & Border official told me, it's "officially" 75 percent accurate. On the one occasion my own license plate was queried, it turned out the scanner had misread it. So, just for a start, without any particular difficulty, a friend of Mohammed Atta could have rented a car for him in Montreal and driven him down to New York -- and there would be never be any record to connect him to the vehicle anywhere in the United States or Canada.
Would al-Qaida types have such contacts in Montreal? Absolutely. The city's a hotbed of Islamist cells and sympathizers.
Fact: The only Islamist terrorist attack prevented by the U.S. government in the period before 9/11 was the attempt to blow up LAX by Ahmed Ressam, a Montrealer caught on the Washington/British Columbia frontier by an alert official who happened to notice he seemed to be a little sweaty. A different guard, a cooler Islamist, and it might just have been yet another routine unrecorded border crossing.
So, when the 9/11 Commission starts saying that there's "no way" something can happen when it happens every single day of the week, you start to wonder what exactly is the point of an official investigation so locked in to pre-set conclusions.
For example, they seemed oddly determined to fix June 3, 2000, as the official date of Atta's first landing on American soil -- even though there were several alleged sightings of him before that date, including a bizarre story that he'd trained at Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. Atta was a very mobile guy in the years before 9/11, shuttling between Germany, Spain, Afghanistan, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the Philippines with effortless ease. I've no hard evidence of where he was in, say, April 2000. The period between late 1999 and May 2000 is, in many ways, a big blur. He might have been in Germany, he might have been in Florida, attempting to get a U.S. Farm Service Agency loan for the world's biggest cropduster, as reported by USDA official Johnell Bryant.
But I do know it's absurd to suggest he was never in the United States until June 3, 2000, simply because that's what the INS says -- especially when U.S. military intelligence says something quite different.
Sept. 11 was a total government fiasco: CIA, FBI, INS, FAA, all the hot shot acronyms failed spectacularly. But appoint an official commission and let them issue an official report and suddenly everyone says, oh, well, this is the official version of 9/11; if they say something didn't happen, it can't possibly have happened.
Readers may recall that I never cared for the commission. There were too many showboating partisan hacks -- Richard ben Veniste, Bob Kerrey -- who seemed more interested in playing to the rhythms of election season. There was at least one person with an outrageous conflict of interest: Clinton Justice Department honcho Jamie Gorelick, who shouldn't have been on the commission but instead a key witness appearing in front of it. And there were far too many areas where the members appeared to be interested only in facts that supported a predetermined outcome.
Maybe we need a 9/11 Commission Commission to investigate the 9/11 Commission. A body intended to reassure Americans that the lessons of that terrible day had been learned instead engaged in what at best was transparent politicking and collusion in posterior-covering and at worst was something a whole lot darker and more disturbing.
The problem pre-9/11 was always political: that's to say, no matter how savvy individual operatives in various agencies may have been, the political culture of the day meant that nothing would happen except a memo would get typed up and shoveled into a filing cabinet. Together with other never fully explained episodes -- like Sandy Berger's pants-stuffing at the national archives -- the Able Danger story makes one thing plain: The problem is still political.
Ping to you...JFK
I can guarantee Ashcroft won't be sent to attack Gorelick...;)...
But this story is only going to get bigger now. Muwahahahahahaaaa!
Come, GOP, don't let this go away--demand investigation!
Podhoretz on National Review is saying the ball is in Weldon's court. Is he just selling a book?
He has made very serious charges that seems to fit that it could all be true but Podhoretz points out that so far Weldon has indicated he spoke to anonymous sources no one has met and has cited documents that no one has seen.
Trust, but verify. This applies to Weldon as well.
Gonzales is Atty Gen now.
Ashcroft spoke about Gorelick's "wall" memo at the 9/11 commish hearing.
Come on, Mark, you disappoint!
The sole purpose of the 9/11 Cpmmission was to conceal any hint that might point to Willie's criminal involvement. All you needed to do was check the Congressional Reocrd and the words of EVERY member of the Congressional Black Caucus. If you had wondered how these racist hacks KNEW that there was no connection between Iraq and terrorism, you'd begin to wonder what they were hiding!
Our soft-underbelly is as Steyn says: "Still Political". We are really NO different than Israel today in its Gaza. Only difference is we have opened up our country to foreign squatters for about 10 years on a wholesale basis. What's left is the explusion of us old time citizens. That's near enough, though, with the housing bubble and the huge number of overrated and interest-only mortgages.
No. Republicans are always more intent on covering up Democratic administration sins than are the Democrats.
We had an entire AlQaida ground support team working out of this area ~ and there were several townhouses involved.
Atta's presence here overlaps that of Gilbert Colon and Soraya Wiriadinata in this neighborhood ~ they were living within 100 feet of each other!
I've been wondering if Gilbert knew this Jose Padilla? No doubt Wiriandinata had his own contacts through the Riady empire into all the AlQaida cells and affiliates in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Weldon has stated on several occasions that he has 11 (or 12?) people who are ready and willing to testify under oath. He's also stated that there are 15 boxes of relevent documentation that the commission never looked at.
for this story to gain any momentum, someone is going to have to start leaking that information.
We also had most of the other hijackers come through here (to stay somewhere) during this earlier period.
Wiriandinata and Gilbert Colon ALSO overlap the presence of Amir Kanzi who shot up the CIA front drive-way entrance back in 1993!
This definitely involves the Clintons in some manner, and may 'splain why Billzo thought he could simply take Osama Bin Laden into custody ~ the man may well have been getting dealt out of the game by his Indonesian gumbahs!
Hamas also has some involvement ~ their headquarters was in a business district near the neighborhood, and their local agents lived here (in the same townhouse development).
Nope. He will not set Ashcroft after Gorelick, nor will he set Attorney General Gonzalez after her either.
I have noticed that Bush really does not go after anyone that had anything to do with the Clinton administration.
It was a sham from day 1.
If Jamie Gorelick was named Karl Rove or Sandy Berger was named Donald Rumsfield, these stories would be on the front page of every mainstream newspaper, every day, in 72-point type, above the fold. You'd think that someone, somewhere, at the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Boston Globe, et al, would forget his political agenda for just a moment and maybe get to the truth. And, possibly, protect this country from another terroristic attack.
and if Hillary wins the presidency in 2008, that mistake will be magnified 1000 fold.
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