Administration Seeks to Suppress Congressional 9-11 Report

Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff on “The Secrets of September 11th”.

The tensions over the release of 9-11 related material seems especially relevant—if not ironic—in light of recent reports that the president’s political advisers have devised an unusual re-election strategy that essentially uses the story of September 11 as the liftoff for his campaign. The White House is delaying the Republican nominating convention, scheduled for New York City, until the first week in September 2004—the latest in the party’s history. That would allow Bush’s acceptance speech, now slated for Sept. 2, to meld seamlessly into 9-11 commemoration events due to take place in the city the next week.
Some sources who have read the still-secret congressional report say some sections would not play quite so neatly into White House plans. One portion deals extensively with the stream of U.S. intelligence-agency reports in the summer of 2001 suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning an upcoming attack against the United States—and implicitly raises questions about how Bush and his top aides responded. One such CIA briefing, in July 2001, was particularly chilling and prophetic. It predicted that Osama bin Laden was about to launch a terrorist strike “in the coming weeks,” the congressional investigators found. The intelligence briefing went on to say: “The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.”

I had read that they were delaying the convention because the spending limits change once you nominate somebody. Since Bush’s nomination is assured, they decided they might as well take advantage of the high spending limits for longer.

Doesn’t mean that this 9/11 thing wasn’t also a motive, though. And either way, they shouldn’t be suppressing the 9/11 report.

Several columnists have already reported the remarks of “top Bush political advisors” (read: Rove) that the 9/11 commemorations are precisely the reason for the late convention. The Bush re-election campaign will be centered on the story of the attack and our response.

It’s actually both reasons. Salon had a good article on the timing of the Republican convention in 2004. Bush will be shuttling between 9/11 commemorative events and political events on the same day. I only hope it blows up in their face, but that is probably too much to hope for.

-DavidCPA

Well, if that doesn’t maybe this will - The NYT’s Nicholas Kristof’s editorial Missing In Action: The Truth.

Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously.

I’m told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president’s office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy’s debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted — except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.

“It’s disingenuous for the State Department people to say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year,” one insider said.

It goes on and on with these people. The whole Al Qaida-Saddam tie is another half-truth at best.

Salon’s Joe Conason had this to say about Kristof’s article:

But what Kristof alleges is that the administration knew the Niger documents were fake when the President cited them in his State of the Union message. (Specifically, Bush warned, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”)

Did Bush know that the Niger story was a fraud? The choices for the White House here aren’t very attractive: Either their administration was too incompetent to detect the fake, or the President lied about the gravest issues confronted by the nation. It is hard to imagine a more serious accusation than to say that the President of the United States knowingly used fraudulent evidence to foment a pre-emptive war.

If the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee take their oaths of office seriously, they should be investigating the Niger scandal now.

Conason also references a NYT editorial by Paul Krugman which deals with all these issues - Man On Horseback.

Why is the failure to find any evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program, or vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons (a few drums don’t qualify — though we haven’t found even that) a big deal? Mainly because it feeds suspicions that the war wasn’t waged to eliminate real threats. This suspicion is further fed by the administration’s lackadaisical attitude toward those supposed threats once Baghdad fell. For example, Iraq’s main nuclear waste dump wasn’t secured until a few days ago, by which time it had been thoroughly looted. So was it all about the photo ops?

Well, Mr. Bush got to pose in his flight suit. And given the absence of awkward questions, his handlers surely feel empowered to make even more brazen use of the national security issue in future.

Next year — in early September — the Republican Party will hold its nominating convention in New York. The party will exploit the time and location to the fullest. How many people will dare question the propriety of the proceedings?

And who will ask why, if the administration is so proud of its response to Sept. 11, it has gone to such lengths to prevent a thorough, independent inquiry into what actually happened? (An independent study commission wasn’t created until after the 2002 election, and it has been given little time and a ludicrously tiny budget.)