Thursday, October 05, 2006

When the 9-11 Nuts Aren't Cracked

Every now and then a nutty-sounding idea really can turn out to contain some important truths.
There are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around about 9-11. We won't bother linking to them, but you know what we mean. You've probably seen several in your own email box or floating around the web: the unanswered questions about what "really" hit the Pentagon... the elaborate film suggesting a "controlled demolition" brought down the Twin Towers... and much, much more.

If there is one unifying theme to the chaotic confusion of inconsistent conspiracy theories colliding with one another around the world wide web it is, as Tim Gebhart wrote last month, that "there is one common point: some U.S.-based entity knew the attacks would occur. "

We've always found elaborate government conspiracy theories very hard to swallow. As David Corn has written, the trouble with every one of them is, ""Simply put, the spies and special agents are not good enough, evil enough, or gutsy enough to mount this operation."

To bring off any of the wild conspiracies the tinfoil-hat crowd promotes would require an "unwieldy conspiracy of silence." Yet, as Benjamin Franklin famously reminded us it's only human nature that "three can keep a secret -- if two of them are dead."

For added proof, all you have to do is follow the unravelling conspiracy of silence over Page-gate.

So, it is with considerable anxiety that we've been watching the growing firestorm ignited by Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial. The book doesn't help to squelch the tinfoil-hat theories. Indeed, the facts recited in this very mainstream book by this very mainstream reporter -- and the post-publication accusations and counter-accusations they are inspiring -- remind us that every now and then a nutty-sounding idea really can turn out to contain some important truths.

An old news report from a reliable source confirmed five years ago that on the week of July 21, 2001, "the Justice Department leased a NASA-owned G-3 Gulfstream" for the use of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft "for a 6-day trip to Western states." Thereafter, at the insistence of the FBI security agents assigned to him, he traveled "exclusively" by private jet. Repeat that: exclusively.

The new news in Woodward's book, as other reliable journalists are confirming, is that two whole months before 9-11, then-CIA director George Tenet and his counter-terrorism expert, Cofer Black, gave a "scary" and "unprecedented" briefing to then-National Security advisor Condoleeza Rice. This happened just two weeks before Ashcroft changed his travel habits.

The point of the briefing was to say that an attack on United States interests was imminent, either here or abroad. On a 1 to 10 scale, we're told, the threat level rated a 10.
"A new book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post alleges that Rice failed to take the July 2001 warning seriously when it was delivered at a White House meeting by Tenet, Cofer Black, then the agency's chief of top counterterrorism, and a third CIA official whose identity remains protected.

"Rice's deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, who became national security adviser after she became secretary of state, and Rice's top counterterrorism aide, Richard Clarke, also were present.

"Woodward wrote that Tenet and Black considered the briefing the 'starkest warning they had given the White House" on the threat posed by Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. But, he wrote, the pair felt as if Rice gave them 'the brush-off.'

This week, Rice claimed at first that she "had no recollection of what she called 'the supposed meeting.'" Holy Dennis Hasert! She has no recollection!

A day later her office confirmed that, indeed, it had happened just as Woodward writes. But, Rice's office added this:
"After this meeting, Dr. Rice asked that this same information be briefed to Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft. That briefing took place by July 17." [emphasis added]
So, now it appears that John Ashcroft developed his fear-of-flying the very next week after the "unprecedented" Tenet-Black briefing team was sent on the road to Ashcroft's office. Ashcroft started avoiding public airlines the very next time he had to fly.

Coincidence? Maybe. But it sure creates a fissure between the stories of Rice, Ashcroft, and probably Rumsfeld about the fateful days, weeks, and months before 9-11.

To push back against criticism that she didn't take the Tenet-Black briefing seriously, Rice at first denied receiving any such briefing, then backtracked saying, in effect, Well, yes, I did get briefed and took the warning seriously. See? I told Tenet and Black to brief John Ashcroft, too.

Ashcroft already is on record as saying he didn't know why he started avoiding public airlines; he was just following Justice Department "guidelines" after receiving a vaguely understood 'threat assessment.' As CBS News reported that same week in 2001, after Ashcroft changed his travel habits he was --
"asked if he knew anything about the threat or who might have made it, the attorney general replied, 'Frankly, I don't. That's the answer.'"
Apparently, that's his story and he's sticking with it. Holy Dennis Hastert, again!

Everyone knows that the following month, in August 2001, George Bush was given the written and oral warning that "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." Now, it seems that awareness came fully one month before that -- something Condoleeza Rice failed to tell the 9-11 Commission.

We're seeing the list of lies Condoleeza Rice told the 9-11 Commission grow longer. Soon, it seems, someone will have to start new lists of the lies told by the rest of the gang to the 9-11 Commission by John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George Bush.

In fact, as Mahablog has observed and Christy Hardin Smith at Firedog Lake expands upon, "it wasn't just Condi who got the briefing." Everybody except then-Secretary of State Colin Powell seems to have been alerted.

Everybody but Powell, that is, and the public.

Sure, there are lots of crackpot notions out there. Unfortunately, the idea no longer looks nutty that key members of the Bush administration lied outright to the 9-11 Commission to cover up the fact they had ample advance warning of an al Quaeda attack and did nothing about it.

1 comment:

panicbean said...

Great read, well laid out. And yes, I am feeling safer by the minute. :)