Sunday, August 08, 2004

Know Bush Fact #33

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

On July 25, 2003, former Senator Max Cleland, a 911 Commission member, spoke with Frank Sesno on PBS’ "Now with Bill Moyers". He complained that while the Commission was formed mid-December 2002, and was to use the joint Senate and House Intelligence Committee Report that was supposedly available on December 10 as its launching pad, it was eight months before the 911 Commission received it, with only 10 months remaining until its own deadline [later extended 2 months].

CLELAND: I'm saying that's deliberate... The 9/11 Commission was deliberately slow walked, because the Administration's policy was, and its priority was, we're gonna take Saddam Hussein out.
The real priority of the White House was not the 9/11 Commission — they fought it. And it was just, and it really was their interest was to delay the revelation of this report.
One of the reasons they didn't want it is they didn't want all this stuff out there.
Step number one, where in the world is Osama bin Laden?...
Step number two, what is the al Qaeda? Why did they do this? Why did they shift their target from the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, and the leadership in Egypt, why did they shift their target to America?
They shifted their target, we know that. . .

SESNO: Step number three. Financial Times today reporting on the Congressional Report: "Report Raises New Questions on Saudi Role in 9/11 Attacks."

CLELAND: Absolutely. . . You can read between the lines and see that there were foreign governments that were much more involved in the 9/11 attack than just supporting Islamic fundamentalist teachings and schools. Now, that has been redacted. A whole 28 page section...
Look at what’s happening. The Administration, the White House, has put several blocks in the road. One, they run all the information to the 9/11 Commission through a political coordinator in Ashcroft’s Justice Department. Duh. Why that?
Secondly, they want to put minders – that’s people who sit in the room when we have an interview with people in NSA, FBI, CIA, Department of – in DIA – in the Pentagon, and Immigration and Naturalization Services. They want to put minders in there. That's to shut down information. That’s not to reveal information.

The "minders" were actually a requirement from the White House that had to be in place before it would release information it was intentionally withholding. Chairman Kean did publicly complain as well. Still, even though the presence of minders would thwart candor, criticism, or whistle-blowing, the Commission agreed to the deal.

Max Cleland was also one of only two Commissioners (the other was former Rep. Tim Roemer, D-IN) who objected to another deal the Commission made. The White House required that only Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow and Commissioner Jamie Gorelick would be allowed to see and take notes on pre-edited versions of the Presidential Daily Briefings.

Only after their notes on the already edited PDBs were reviewed and/or redacted by the White House could they be shared with the remaining Commissioners.

By October 26, 2003, Max Cleland was fed up, and said so in the New York Times:

We're still in negotiations with some assistant White House counsel about getting these documents – it’s disgusting.
A majority of the commission has agreed to a bad deal... It is a national scandal... I'm not going to be part of looking at information only partially. I'm not going to be part of just coming to quick conclusions. I'm not going to be part of political pressure to do this or not do that...
As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted.

On November 21, 2003, Bush suddenly nominated Max Cleland to the Board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a credit agency that directly benefits U.S. small businesses by financing the export of U.S. goods and services.

It was a great opportunity for Cleland. "The Ex-Im Bank focuses on good-paying jobs for Americans. That's what the Bank is all about. That's what I'm all about."

The appointment required Cleland's resignation from the 911 Commission.

On December 8, 2003, the 911 Commission did not mention Cleland at their public session.

Finally, when pressed by a reporter asking about the restoration of the Commission’s credibility, Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton noted that Cleland was a man of integrity, but did address the issues he had raised.

To verify/research, Google "911 +Cleland".

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