It’s front page news today that:
Journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World paper tried to access the mobile phones of 9/11 victims, a former New York City police officer claimed on Monday.
It’s also front page news today that the new Secretary of Defense – Leon Panetta – said that American soldiers are in Iraq because of 9/11, even though AFP notes:
That was one of the justifications for the 2003 US-led invasion, but the argument has since been widely dismissed.
(see this for details).
But a more important story – and one which might focus on a more appropriate country
than Iraq – is that the co-chair of the Congressional Joint 9/11 Inquiry (Bob Graham) today alleged a cover up by the U.S. government of state assistance by Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 hijackers.
Graham is no flake. He was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for 10 years (including 18 months as chairman), member of the CIA External Advisory Board, chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, 18-year U.S. senator, two-term governor of Florida, co-chair of the national commission on the BP oil spill, and member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
Graham writes today in the Daily Beast:
The first two hijackers who entered the United States did so through Los Angeles International Airport in mid-January 2000. Within days they were urged by a shadowy man, already described in an FBI report as an “agent” of the Saudi government, to relocate to San Diego with promises of extensive support—promises on which he promptly delivered.
The agent’s cover was as a ghost employee of a contractor to an agency of the Saudi government—paid a salary and allowances but never expected to show up and work. His real job was to monitor Saudi youth in San Diego getting an education to ensure they were not also plotting the overthrow of the monarchy.
When the two future hijackers reached San Diego, the agent’s allowances were substantially increased. Upon their arrival the agent secured and paid for an apartment. He arranged flight lessons. He introduced them to a tight circle of Muslims, primarily Saudis, who offered additional support.
Yet the support being funneled to the two visitors proved insufficient for their decidedly non-Islamic tastes—alcohol, strip clubs, even a desired, though unfulfilled, marriage to a stripper. The agent then tapped another source of funds: a welfare account maintained for the benefit of Saudis in need by the wife of the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.
That is some of what we do know, and we got a sufficient glimpse to know what we didn’t know. Still unanswered after nearly 10 years are the questions of the full extent of the Saudi pre-9/11 involvement: Did any or all of the other 17 receive support from Saudi interests? Why would Saudi Arabia do this? Do the Saudis have the will and capability to aid future attacks against the United States? And most important: Why the cover-up by our government?
I have attempted to address these questions in the final report of the congressional commission and the nonfiction book Intelligence Matters, published in 2004. Each was censored by authorities in the intelligence community, particularly on the role of the Saudis in 9/11.
Why would the Saudis have given substantial assistance to at least two of the hijackers, and possibly all 19? The answer I have come to is survival—survival of the state and survival of the House of Saud.
This is stunning. Graham is saying – and actually has said for years – that the Saudis were involved in 9/11, but the U.S. government has been censoring this fact.
But it doesn’t end there.
As I noted last year:
Investigators for the Congressional [9/11] Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House.
As the New York Times notes:
Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence . . .
* * *
The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.
In his book “Intelligence Matters,” Mr. Graham, the co-chairman of the Congressional inquiry with Representative Porter J. Goss, Republican of Florida, said an F.B.I. official wrote them in November 2002 and said “the administration would not sanction a staff interview with the source.” On Tuesday, Mr. Graham called the letter “a smoking gun” and said, “The reason for this cover-up goes right to the White House.”
And see this Newsweek article.
The co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission also described numerous obstructions of justice by the government into the 9/11 inquiry.
As I also pointed out last year, Graham – as well as the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission – found that witnesses were also intimidated into being quiet:
As I detailed previously, both the Joint Intelligence Committee and 9/11 Commission investigations into 9/11 had government “minders” intimidating witnesses into not saying anything the government didn’t like.
You may assume that the issue of “minders” is overblown, and is not really that important.
But, as the New York Times noted in 2003:
The panel [i.e. the 9/11 Commission] also said the failure of the Bush administration to allow officials to be interviewed without the presence of government colleagues could impede its investigation, with the commission’s chairman suggesting today that the situation amounted to “intimidation” of the witnesses.
***[9/11 Commission co-chairs] Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton suggested that the Justice Department was behind a directive barring intelligence officials from being interviewed by the panel without the presence of agency colleagues.
At a news conference, Mr. Kean described the presence of “minders” at the interviews as a form of intimidation. “I think the commission feels unanimously that it’s some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency,” he said. “You might get less testimony than you would.”
“We would rather interview these people without minders or without agency people there,” he said.
And as I previously noted, a recently released 9/11 Commission memo complains that:
- Minders “answer[ed] questions directed at witnesses;”
- Minders acted as “monitors, reporting to their respective agencies on Commission staffs lines of inquiry and witnesses’ verbatim responses.” The staff thought this “conveys to witnesses that their superiors will review their statements and may engage in retribution;” and
- Minders “positioned themselves physically and have conducted themselves in a manner that we believe intimidates witnesses from giving full and candid responses to our questions.”
Still think this isn’t an important issue?
Senator Bob Graham, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and chair of the Joint Inquiry of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into 9/11, said in 2005:
The [9/11] commission’s findings were based on an interview with al-Bayoumi in Saudi Arabia with Saudi Arabian officials present. “He had no motivation to speak truthfully as to his role,” he said.
When government officials are present, it creates conditions where the witness “has no motivation to speak truthfully.”
Bottom Line: The co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Keane and Lee Hamilton, and chair of the the Joint Inquiry of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into 9/11, Bob Graham, said that minders obstructed the investigation into 9/11.
In his Daily Beast article today, Graham also goes into more detail regarding the American cover up of 9/11:
The most perplexing unanswered question remains: Why would the United States engage in a cover-up? Many have pointed to the special personal friendship between the royal family and the highest levels of our national government. The fact that the Saudis were allowed to fly a planeload of their elite home from the United States in the days immediately after 9/11, when all other commercial aviation was grounded, is often cited as support for that position. In fact, all that actions such as this do is make America’s post-9/11 reaction to the Saudis even more mysterious.
Secrets deemed this critical by both governments are bound to be buried under many layers of official protection and unofficial obfuscation. The actions since 9/11 are a perverted application of Winston Churchill’s truism on the Allies’ plans to end World War II: “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
How far has the American cover up gone?
Here are some hints:
- The 9/11 Commission’s co-chairs said that the 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials misrepresented the facts to the Commission, and the Commission considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements (free subscription required)
- 9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, and that the 9/11 debate should continue
- 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”
- 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up“
- 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .” He also says that it might take “a permanent 9/11 commission” to end the remaining mysteries of September 11.
- And the Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) – who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry – recently said “At some level of the government, at some point in time…there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened“. He also said “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.” And he said: “It’s almost a culture of concealment, for lack of a better word. There were interviews made at the FAA’s New York center the night of 9/11 and those tapes were destroyed. The CIA tapes of the interrogations were destroyed. The story of 9/11 itself, to put it mildly, was distorted and was completely different from the way things happened“
- A 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials (Raymond McGovern) said “I think at simplest terms, there’s a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke”
- The Division Chief of the CIA’s Office of Soviet Affairs, who served as Senior Analyst from 1966 – 1990. He also served as Professor of International Security at the National War College from 1986 – 2004 (Melvin Goodman) said “The final [9/11 Commission] report is ultimately a coverup“
- The Group Director on matters of national security in the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that President Bush did not respond to unprecedented warnings of the 9/11 disaster and conducted a massive cover-up instead of accepting responsibility
- The former director of the FBI (Louis Freeh) says there was a cover up by the 9/11 Commission
- Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says that the government has ordered the media not to cover 9/11
(Other than that, the American government has been totally forthcoming .)
Note: This essay does not address one way or another whether any countries other than Saudi Arabia might have been involved in the 9/11 attacks themselves.
Update: Graham appeared on MSNBC and talked about this issue: