The 9/11 Commission has put out a very detailed memo defending itself that basically says Rep. Curt Weldon and the unnamed Navy officers who have made a big stink about Able Danger are stretching it bigtime. The basis of their charge is two-fold:
First, that 9/11 staffers met with folks in Afghanistan in 2003 who told them about Able Danger and that Mohammed Atta had been identified by that military-intelligence operation. Here's what the commission says: "As with their other meetings, Commission staff promptly prepared a memorandum for the record. That memorandum, prepared at the time, does not record any mention of Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers, or any suggestion that their identities were known to anyone at DOD before 9/11. Nor do any of the three Commission staffers who participated in the interview, or the executive branch lawyer, recall hearing any such allegation."
What's more, in February 2004, commission staff members read Able Danger documents at the Pentagon: "None of the documents turned over to the Commission mention Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers. Nor do any of the staff notes on documents reviewed in the DOD reading room indicate that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers were mentioned in any of those documents."
That's about as strong a denial as there can be, and it sounds credible to me.
As for Curt Weldon, remember that he's trying to sell a book. It's now up to him to put up or shut up. Can he or anyone else supply evidence stronger than the evidence presented to date about this that the Pentagon was in possession of Mohammed Atta's name a year before the attacks?
Yes, let's see the documents. Let's put everything on the table and look at it. Many of us were not happy with the way the 9/11 Commission staged it's hearings. 3-Ring Circuses displayed more decorum and less grandstanding.
All of this needs fresh air to wash away the stink of partisan politics on both sides.
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DESERVED BETTER.
To be specific, we deserved the honest and open deliberations of persons whose major goal was to get at the truth; and not persons who may have reasons to obscure it. And not persons who were unable to get at it without bloviating on and on about their personal opinions.
We deserve to get everything now out in the open. I don't trust the staff notes. I want to see the documents. I want to know exactly and precisely what documents Sandy Berger "lost" and which ones he lifted. I want Jamie Gorelick to testify about the wall that was put up to prevent intelligence from freely being passed around. I want to have a discussion of White's memo cautioning about that wall.
I don't want these things because I care to blame those people--whether any were incompetent, malicious, or not. I'm tired of the blame game. I just want to find out what happened that caused the enormous disaster in our intelligence services before we were attacked on 9/11.
In other words, I want the whole truth, and nothing but.
UPDATE: Jack Kelly has an excellent piece in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. And Mark Steyn weighs in here. I particularly agreed with this part:
Readers may recall that I never cared for the commission. There were too many showboating partisan hacks -- Richard ben Veniste, Bob Kerrey -- who seemed more interested in playing to the rhythms of election season. There was at least one person with an outrageous conflict of interest: Clinton Justice Department honcho Jamie Gorelick, who shouldn't have been on the commission but instead a key witness appearing in front of it. And there were far too many areas where the members appeared to be interested only in facts that supported a predetermined outcome.
UPDATE II: AJStrata of Strata-Sphere is all over the story and has a good follow-up with extra links. Go and check out his site. (8:30 pm)
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