We’ve often expressed our disgust with the 9/11 Commission. Our grievances have included the inclusion on the panel of Jamie Gorelick whose actions in creating the intelligence wall were, or should have been, at the center of the investigation; the use of the hearings by Gorelick and her fellow Democratic operative Richard Ben-Veniste for raw partisan purposes; the Commission’s half-baked recommendations for reform which, as Richard Posner has shown, are almost certainly counter-productive; and its tactics in ramming those recommendations into law.
But the Commission may be worse than I suspected. I’m referring to the Able Danger scandal. As AP reports, the Commission has confirmed that it “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.” The admission that it had this information comes on the heels of its claim that, to the contrary, the panel was unaware of intelligence specifically naming Atta. That position became “inoperative” after Rep. Curt Weldon exposed it as false.
What’s the significance of the Commission’s admission that it had the information on Atta? Primarily, it has to do with the Gorelick intelligence “wall” I referred to above that prevented intelligence agents from comparing notes with criminal investigators. As John Podhoretz and Andrew McCarthy at NRO’s Corner note, that wall, essentially a footnote in the Commission’s report, may well have caused the linchpin of the 9/11 attacks to evade capture by American law enforcement. The exclusion of the information about Atta, and the subsequent claim that the Commission never received this information, would make sense in the context of a whitewash of the wall. Maybe we should get Ben-Veniste to investigate this.
Podhoretz also speculates that the omission of the information on Atta may have been an attempt by the Commission to “protect its timeline” on the whereabouts of Atta in 1999. That timeline purported to debunk the Atta-Iraq connection, a task that, in Podhoretz’s words “was of vital importance to Democrats, who had become focused almost obsessively on the preposterous notion that there was no relation whatever between Al Qaeda and Iraq.”
Podhoretz submits that Able Danger is becoming the biggest story of the summer, and he may be right.
JOHN adds: Yes, and how long would you have to scrutinize MSM accounts of “Able Danger” before you’d find an acknowledgement of the relationship between this failure–not of intelligence, but of communication–and the Patriot Act?
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