by Paul Craig Roberts
Many Americans are content with the 9/11 Commission Report, but the two
chairmen of the commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton are not. Neither
was commission member Max Cleland, a US Senator who resigned from the 9/11
Commission, telling the Boston Globe(November 13, 2003): "This investigation
is now compromised." Even former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote in the Wall
Street Journal (November 17, 2005) that there are inaccuracies in the
commission's report and "questions that need answers."
Both Kean and Hamilton have twice stated publicly, once in their 2006 book,
'Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission,' and again in
(January 2, 2008), the New York Times, that there are inaccuracies in their
report and unanswered -- or mis-answered -- questions.
On the second day of this new year, Kean and Hamilton accused the CIA of
obstructing their investigation: "What we do know is that government
officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by
Congress and the President, to investigate one of the greatest tragedies to
confront this country. We call that obstruction."
In their book, Kean and Hamilton wrote that they were unable to obtain
"access to star witnesses in custody who were the only possible source for
inside information about the 9/11 plot."
The only information the commission was permitted to have about what was
learned from interrogations of alleged plot ringleaders, such as Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, came from "thirdhand" sources. The commission was not
permitted to question the alleged plotters in custody or even to meet with
those who interrogated the alleged plotters. Consequently, write Kean and
Hamilton, "We had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee
information" that was fed to them by third party hands. "How could we tell
if someone such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was telling us the truth?"
The fact that video tapes of the interrogations existed was kept secret from
the 9/11 Commission.
The video tapes have since been destroyed. The destruction of the videos has
become an issue because of White House involvement in the decision to
destroy the tapes and because the videos are believed to have been destroyed
because they reveal methods of torture that the Bush administration denies
According to President Bush, the US does not practice torture even though he
and his Department of Justice (sic) assert the right to torture.
Is the torture issue a red herring? The 9/11 Commission was not tasked with
investigating interrogation methods or detainee treatment. The commission
was tasked with investigating al Qaeda's participation in the 9/11 attack
and determining the perpetrators of the terrorist event. There was no reason
to withhold from the commission video evidence of confessions implicating al
Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Was the video evidence withheld from the 9/11 Commission because the alleged
participants in the plot did not confess, did not implicate al Qaeda, and
did not implicate bin Laden? Does anyone seriously believe that evidence of
confession would not have been revealed -- evidence that could have
foreclosed what has become a massive industry of 9/11 truth seekers
involving large numbers of highly credible persons?
There is no reason for the Bush administration to fear the torture issue.
The Justice Department's memos have legalized the practice, and Congress has
passed legislation, signed by President Bush, giving retroactive protection
to US interrogators who tortured detainees. The Military Commissions Act,
passed in September 2006 and signed by Bush in October 2006, strips
detainees of protections provided by the Geneva Conventions: "No alien
unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this
chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights." Other
provisions of the act strip detainees of speedy trials and of protection
against torture and self- incrimination. The law has a provision that
retroactively protects torturers against prosecution for war crimes.
Did the Bush administration cleverly take advantage of the torture claims in
order to spin the destruction of the CIA video tapes as a "torture story."
It is much more likely that the tapes were destroyed because they reveal the
absence of confession to the plot. As Kean and Hamilton ask, without
evidence how do we know the truth? All we have is the word of the
administration that told us Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction
and that, while sitting on a NIE report [National Intelligence Estimate on
Iran] that concluded that Iran had terminated its weapons program in 2003,
told us that Iran had an ongoing nuclear weapons program and was close to
having a nuclear weapon.
What about the bin Laden video tape in which he takes credit for the 9/11
attack? Every indication is that the tape is a fake. The bin Laden in the
November 9, 2001, "confession video" looks nothing like the bin Laden in the
last confirmed video of December, 2001.
Recently, the Italian newspaper, Corriere Della Sera, reported that the
former president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga, said that Italian intelligence
had concluded that the bin Laden confession video was a fake.
William Arkin in the online Washington Post, February 1, 1999, described a
voice-morphing technology developed at the government's Los Alamos
laboratory. Arkin reported that digital morphing, including appearance, "has
come of age, available for use in psychological operations."
Investigative reporter Kristina Borjesson reminds us that "six days after
9/11, CNN reported that bin Laden had sent a statement to Al Jazeera denying
that he had been involved." She also reminds us that the FBI says it has no
hard evidence that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. The FBI wants Osama
for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, not for 9/11.
Borjesson also reports that in the "confession video" bin Laden is revealed
writing with his right hand, but is known to be left-handed.
If the bin Laden "confession video" is indeed a fake, as it appears to be,
why run the risk of creating such a video if the CIA has on video tape the
confessions of the alleged al Qaeda participants in the 9/11 plot? Why
destroy such evidence, especially when torture has been given a green light
by the DOJ and US Congress?
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He is a former university professor and associate editor of
the Wall Street Journal.
"What Really Happened on September 11, 2001,"
The Wisdom Fund
Enver Masud, "9/11 'Mastermind'
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Charged," The Wisdom Fund, February 11, 2008