Reprinted from www.huffingtonpost.com
Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton wrote an opinion piece last week in USAToday, trying to "temper" feelings surrounding the release of the 28 pages.
Kean and Hamilton wrote, "The 28 pages have generated a lot of public speculation over the years and have been described as a "smoking gun" implicating the Saudi government in the deadliest terrorist attack carried out on U.S. soil."
They go on to write, "What often gets lost in those theories is that the 28 pages were based almost entirely on raw, unvetted material that came to the FBI. That material was written up as possible leads for further investigation, and the 28 pages were a summary of some of those reports and leads as of the end of 2002 -- all of them uninvestigated."
What Tom and Lee fail to acknowledge is the reason the "raw, unvetted material" was left "uninvestigated" was strictly because of the 9/11 Commission's Staff Director, Philip Zelikow.
Indeed,chapter 5,"Al Qaeda Aims at the Homeland," and chapter 7, "The Attack Looms," provide most of the vital pieces of information surrounding the 9/11 plot by citing Khalid Sheikh Mohammad's interviews as their primary source. Why would any laudable historian (who Zelikow professes to be) base an official accounting of the worst terrorist attack since Pearl Harbor on the bogus ramblings of a detained, tortured terrorist? That's why anything and everything that comes out of Zelikow's mouth should be questioned for its veracity -- and motive.
After all, if the person in charge of torturing KSM wanted to obscure the Saudi role, is it a surprise that KSM would say what his torturer wanted to hear? Moreover, is it a surprise that the person or persons in charge of KSM's torture, who wanted to obscure the U.S. government's awareness of the threat and indeed specific knowledge of many of the terrorist activities before the attack, would elicit a story consistent with that goal?
Indeed, regarding the 9/11 Commission's treatment of the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks, Zelikow's hands are easily found. Look at three items. First, Zelikow blocked and then fired Dana Lesemann when she tried to investigate the uninvestigated leads in the 28 pages. Where were Tom and Lee when this happened? Second, it was only Zelikow and Dieter Snell who were granted access and able to question Omar Bayoumi--a man who stands at the epicenter of the Saudi nexus to the 9/11 attacks. Why were Zelikow and Snell the only ones permitted to interview such a key individual? Finally, it was Zelikow and Snell who "re-wrote" the entire Saudi section of the 9/11 Commission's Final Report -- leaving out all the damning, incriminating information. Where is that missing information today? Available for public review?
So please, when Tom and Lee say that they "found no evidence linking the Saudi's to the 9/11 attacks," pay careful attention to the cute use of their words, "found no evidence." Because while concededly there may not thenhave been conclusive proof, there were certainly indications and evidence that required further and immediate follow-up.
In addition, note when Tom and Lee talk about access granted to the 28 pages being given to "relevant" staff. Which staff were deemed relevant? And who decided what staffers were "relevant?" Zelikow? Everyone had clearance, so why didn't all investigative staff have access to the 28 pages?
Tom and Lee also proudly state that their report is unclassified and available to the public. What you need to realize is that while their final report is unclassified, the source documents for that report remain classified and hidden from the public. In short, unlike redacted reports where you can readily see what is being kept secret by the dark lines crossing out words, with the 9/11 Commission's Final Report, we'll never know how much other pertinent information was kept out and classified by Zelikow. And, as someone who has looked for specific documents on the National Archives website, I can state emphatically that many of the 9/11 Commission's most vital and damning documents remain redacted, withheld, classified and/or unavailable to the public.
Moreover, please pay attention to how Tom and Lee characterize the 9/11 Review Panel. Realize that the 9/11 Review Panel did nothing more than tie up the loose, uncomfortable (i.e. damning) ends that would inevitably be created with the release of the 28 pages. Was the Panel's purpose to uncover the entire 9/11 story or to stop further inquiry that would eventually uncover the entire truth?
Finally, I do agree with one section of Kean and Hamilton's editorial, "The 9/11 attacks were the worst mass murder ever carried out in the United States. Those responsible deserve the maximum punishment possible. Therefore, accusations of complicity in that mass murder from responsible authorities are a grave matter. Such charges should be levied with care."
I just hope that both Kean and Hamilton mean what they say when they talk about those responsible and complicit in the 9/11 attacks "deserving the maximum punishment possible." And I hope their definition of complicity is as broad as mine, by including actions before and after the crime and actors from inside and outside the United States.