February 7, 2007
Why We Need a New
By A. C. Mills
is unquestionably the most important event in American history since
December 7, 1941, when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. The
magnitude of its impact on America and the world cannot be overstated.
The terrible acts of 9/11 and the events leading up to them deserve a
thorough and unimpeachable investigation to learn the facts. And if
some rogue elements within the U.S. government were complicit in the
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11,
it is critical that these elements be exposed and removed from power. A
new commission is clearly called for because the investigation and
report by the 9/11 Commission were badly flawed, as will be discussed
The most important tools of any criminal investigators are the accounts
of the eyewitnesses and first responders. The first thing the police do
at an accident scene is to gather all witness accounts and within a
week the insurance companies are also telephoning the witnesses to take
their testimony. Many New York City firemen who were eyewitnesses are
calling the Commission's report a cover-up, and victims' family
organizations are saying the same thing.
If it had been a comprehensive and thorough scientific investigation it
would have looked like the investigation that followed the Space
Shuttle Columbia disaster. Although there may remain minor questions
concerning some of the peripheral conclusions, the report on the
Columbia accident on the whole stands without major dispute within the
scientific community. Contrast this with the 9/11 Commission report,
which sidestepped critical questions, and the FEMA 9/11 report and its
Flaws in the Commission's Investigation
Conflicts of Interest in the Commission
One important reason for asking for a new truly independent commission
is because of the conflicts of interest of the 9/11 Commission members
and staff, particularly Philip Zelikow, Executive Director of the
Commission. The 9/11 Family Steering Committee came to the conclusion
that each of the commission members was placed on the commission to
protect specific interests. For example, Jim Thompson's and Slade
Gorton's law firms represented the airlines. Jamie Gorelick was on the
board of Schlumberger, a large defense contracting company and had also
served on a CIA advisory panel. John Lehman owned several companies
that provided military components to defense contractors or directly to
But the most profound conflict of interest, one that compromised the
breadth and integrity of the commission's investigation, was in the
executive staff director, Philip Zelikow. He was a close colleague of
Condoleezza Rice, and at the specific request of Rice had served on the
Bush administration's transition team. This meant that as the Clinton
administration was leaving office and the Bush Administration was
coming into office, it was Zelikow's job to facilitate that transition.
Because two of Zelikow's specialties are national security and
terrorism, he was briefed about al Qaeda and bin Laden by outgoing
National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, counter-terrorism czar Richard
Clarke, and CIA Director George Tenet. These briefings took place from
late 2000 through early 2001. Zelikow's job was to take that
information and convey it to the Bush national security team. How could
Zelikow direct an investigation whose mandate was at least in part to
investigate the role Zelikow himself played in the transition time
between the Clinton and Bush administrations-a transition that went to
the heart of why the Bush administration underestimated or ignored the
threat posed by al Qaeda and bin Laden?
While the commissioners were the public face of the Commission, the
real work was carried out behind the scenes by the staff-and there were
about eighty staff members who were divided up into several key areas.
Zelikow was in charge of those eighty staffers and the entire course of
the investigation. He was the Commission's gatekeeper--all information
that ended up in the final report was there only because Zelikow
thought it should be there. In essence, the story told by the 9/11
Commission became the story that Zelikow wanted to tell.
Zelikow, as Executive Director, was one of only two people from the
Commission to be given primary access to the executive branch
documents. As such, he received all the administration's documents
relating to al Qaeda and 9/11. Zelikow provided a limited and censored
group of documents to the commissioners, but only in a secure location.
Commissioners could take handwritten notes about these documents, but
these notes could not be removed from the classified location nor used
in writing the Commission's final report.
Zelikow designed the investigation so that staff was divided into
individual teams, each team addressing one specific part of the
investigation. Thus, no one segment of the staff was seeing the whole
picture. The official excuse for 9/11 is that "nobody connected the
dots," and yet Zelikow set up the Commission's own investigation so
that no single investigator could feasibly "connect the dots" of the
failure that occurred on 9/11.
The other person given primary access to the administration's documents
was Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, who ironically was also interviewed by
the Commission as a witness regarding her former position as deputy
attorney general in the Clinton administration. The Family Steering
Committee issued a press release indicating their total dismay over the
conflicts of interest exhibited by Zelikow and Gorelick.
We should note here that Philip Zelikow was the primary author of the
Administration's 2002 version of the National Security Strategy
(generally known as NSS 2002), which turned the concept of
'preventive-preemptive warfare' into official American policy. The NSS
2000 said, among other things, "The events of September 11, 2001, . .
.opened vast, new opportunities." Zelikow apparently believed that 9/11
had turned out to be a "good" thing. Then he wouldn't be inclined
during the investigation to focus on any facts that would point the
finger at specific federal officials, as this might spoil those
Investigation and Questioning by Commission Not Tough Enough
By late autumn of 2003, it became apparent to the Family Steering
Committee that the questioning of the hearings was not tough enough and
that the hearings were not identifying specific problems and holding
people accountable. Witnesses would contradict their prior testimony
and the Commission would fail to ask them why. This happened, for
example, when Jane Garvey director of the FAA testified before the
Commission. When she first appeared before the Commission, she laid out
a timeline that described when the FAA knew the airplanes on 9/11 were
confirmed to be hijacked. This is important because none of the
protocols in place for hijackings were followed on 9/11 and none of the
failures were explained. When she was invited back for a second time,
she submitted a new timeline, and the commissioners never pressed for a
specific answer as to why Garvey had changed her story.
When Kristen Breitweiser of the Family Steering Committee asked a
commissioner why more pointed questions weren't being asked of the
witnesses, she was told: "It's not the Washington way."
Investigation Failed to Address Most of the Important Questions
The Family Steering Committee (FSC) has reviewed the 9/11 Commission
Report in depth and compared it to the list of questions they had
presented to the Commission over the course of its work. As a result of
this review, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie van Auken of the FSC have issued
a 'report card' on the Commission's work entitled, FSC Questions to the
9/11 Commission with Ratings of its Performance in Providing Answers,
which lists each question and the rating they applied to each. This
document can be downloaded from the following site: http://www.911pressfortruth.com/downloads.
Their report card showed that of the major questions the FSC asked the
Commission to pursue as they questioned officials, only 10% were
satisfactorily answered, while 25% were inadequately answered and 65%
were generally ignored or omitted from the report.
A petition to Congress signed by 25 military, intelligence and security
veterans states in part, "Omission is one of the major flaws in the
Commission's report. We are aware of significant issues and cases that
were duly reported to the Commission by those of us with direct
knowledge, but somehow escaped attention. The omission of such serious
and applicable issues and information by itself renders the report
flawed, and casts doubt on the validity of many of its recommendations."
Many observers, such as Paul Hellyer former Minister of National
Defense of Canada, believe the inquiry carried out by the 9/11
Commission was very shallow and superficial, and that the inquiries
should have been undertaken in much greater depth.
Specific Omissions and Contradictions in the 9/11 Commission
1. Failure to even mention the Able Danger program of the Department of
Defense (DOD). Intelligence officers working in the Able Danger program
allegedly identified Mohammed Atta and at least two other terrorists a
year or more before 9/11. When they tried to transfer that information
to the FBI they were denied. Even the most junior investigator would
immediately know that the name and photo ID of Mohammed Atta in 2000
would be precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many
times employed to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists, yet the 9/11
Commission inexplicably concluded Able Danger was historically
insignificant. The 9/11 Commission staff refused to perform any
in-depth review or investigate the issues relative to Able Danger that
were presented to them. They effectively dismissed the importance of
Able Danger based on what many believe was their preconceived
conclusion on the 9/11 story they wished to tell.
2. Failure to address serious intelligence issues. For example, Sibel
Edmonds, a former FBI translator and a witness to the Commission, made
the commissioners aware of purposeful mistranslations and late
translations of critical documents leading up to 9/11. But the
Commission did not pursue this. Thus, one must assume that other
serious issues were in the same manner omitted from the report. These
omissions cast doubt on the validity of the report and therefore on its
conclusions and recommendations.
3. Conflicting Air-Defense Timelines. The Commission's report presents
a timeline of air-defense response that differs radically from all the
previous official accounts. The original account given two days after
the attacks was presented by General Richard Myers, the acting Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11. He appeared on September 13, 2001
before the Senate for hearings, scheduled many weeks earlier, to
consider his promotion to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During
the hearing Myers told the Senate that no fighter jets were scrambled
to intercept any of the 9/11 flights until after the Pentagon was
struck, which occurred at 9:37 AM.
On September 18, 2001, General Ralph Eberhart, commanding officer of
the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), presented another
timeline, in which he stated that NORAD had scrambled two squads of
fighters prior to the crash of United Airlines Flight 175 into the
south tower of the World Trade Center (WTC). NORAD stuck to this second
version of the timeline of events, with minor revisions. And in a
handsome four-color book entitled Air War over America, commissioned by
NORAD and written by Leslie Filson, a historian hired by the Air Force,
NORAD's version of the events on 9/11 is described in some detail. The
book implies that NORAD had in fact received timely warnings from the
FAA to which NORAD had responded.
Another timeline was adopted by the Commission, one which conflicts
significantly from NORAD's timeline, and which effectively places
almost all the blame for the delayed air defense response on the FAA.
This new timeline was presented in June 2004 in a statement by the
commission staff. Throughout their testimony before the Commission, on
the other hand, FAA officials maintained that they had in fact provided
adequate and timely information to NORAD via phone bridges. In
developing their own timeline, the Commission chose to ignore almost
all previous testimony and submissions from NORAD and the FAA. The
Commission apparently felt a need to make the FAA a scapegoat for the
lack of fighter response on 9/11.
4. Failure to mention or explore the relation between the ISI (the
Pakistani Intelligence Service) and 9/11. Why did the head of the ISI,
Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, wire $100,000 to Mohammed Atta before
the attacks, and then why was he in Washington, D.C. meeting with the
heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on the day of the
attacks? The Commission ignored these questions.
5. Failure to identify the groups who benefited from the 9/11 attacks.
The Commission failed to connect the dots and identify those people and
groups who, at least by early 2004, had gained and profited by the 9/11
attacks and the resulting war on terror.
6. Failure to address the nearly free-fall collapse of World Trade
Center Towers One and Two.
7. Failure to include even one mention of the collapse of WTC 7. The
Commission's report makes no mention of the total collapse of WTC 7 at
the World Trade Center in the late afternoon of 9/11/01. The report
does mention the fact that the Office of Emergency Management's (OEM)
was located on the 23rd floor of WTC 7. And it notes that at 9:30 AM on
that day a senior OEM official ordered the evacuation of the facility
after a Secret Service agent advised him that additional commercial
planes had not been accounted for. But the fact that the report
completely fails to mention, or discuss the causes of, the nearly
free-fall collapse of WTC 7 is strange.
8. Failure to document or analyze wreckage at the attack/crash sites.
The Commission's report contains no reference to the wreckage of the
four airplanes. Neither is there any mention of building remains or
rubble. The only reference to the words 'wreckage' or 'remains' was in
relation to the asbestos content of the dust from the Twin Towers.
Thus, the Commission appears to have accepted without comment the fact
that the rubble and steel fragments from the Twin Towers, and the
airplane wreckage from Flight 77 at the Pentagon, were removed and
disposed of without any expert examination. (Available photographs of
the crash scene at the Pentagon reveal no evidence of parts that could
be associated with the remains of a Boeing 757 airplane.) The report,
thus, fails to mention that none of the wreckage/rubble underwent the
thoroughgoing forensic investigation that would have assisted in
understanding the nature of the crashes and subsequent building
9. Failure to discuss the different versions of the passenger lists for
the hijacked airliners. No mention was made in the report of the fact
that differing passenger lists emerged in the first few weeks after the
attacks, including the fact that most lists failed to show anyone with
a Middle Eastern name. In addition, the report surprisingly fails to
provide: (1) the names of the passengers on each flight; or even (2)
the number of passengers on board each airplane.
Examples of Questions the Commission Should have Pursued but
1. Why were people in the South Tower told by the New York/New Jersey
Port Authority staff to remain at their desks and not evacuate the
building immediately after the North Tower was hit? Many lives would
have been saved if an excavation order had been given immediately after
Tower One had been hit.
2. According to a New York Times article of September 12, 2001, within
hours of the attacks FBI agents were at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
University seeking information, and the next day authorities had
identified accomplices in several cities who had been involved in
planning the attacks the day before. Biographies had been prepared of
each of the identified members of the hijacking teams, including their
recent movements. How was all this information produced and gathered
together on such a short notice? It seems almost impossible without
prior knowledge, and if they had such prior knowledge, why didn't they
act on it and arrest or detain the hijackers?
3. How was the FBI able to find Mohammed Atta's car at Logan airport so
quickly? If the FBI received a tip, how is that possible when the photo
of Atta was not shown until days after the attacks?
4. How is it that a videographer just happened to have his video camera
focused at just the right place on the North Tower when Flight 11 flew
into it? This deserves some detailed inquiry.
5. The Administration claimed that its only objective immediately after
9/11 was to hunt down Osama bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda. But
reliable reports indicate that within hours or a day after the tragedy,
President Bush and his aides were focusing much more on using 9/11 as
an excuse to attack Iraq. The idea of attacking Afghanistan didn't
appear to be their main priority. Why would that have been?
6. Only a military aircraft, not a civilian plane flown by al Qaeda,
would have given off the 'friendly' signal needed to disable the
Pentagon's anti-aircraft missile batteries as it approached the
building. Why did the Commission not investigate this?
* * *
The wrong-headed and undemocratic policies pursued by the present
Administration have their roots in the 9/11 attacks. In a national poll
conducted by the Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University in
August 2006, 36 percent of respondents said it is "very likely" or
"somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to
stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the
Middle East." A poll conducted by Zogby International in May 2006
indicates that 42% of American residents believe there has been a cover
up and 45% think "Congress or an International Tribunal should
re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government
officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success."
Given the results of these polls, it's no surprise that the propaganda
specialists in the State Department have started to churn out attack
websites targeting 9/11 skepticism. Nor that the normal channels of
media have followed suit (Time, New York Times, etc.). Even some on the
'left' have come up with attack articles. Alternet recently published
an attack piece by the Progressive's Matthew Rothschild. The line seems
to be that no matter what alternative theories about 9/11 are proposed,
the official story about 9/11 should not be questioned. It is
The American people have the right to a new truly independent
commission to investigate the full story of 9/11 including the many
still unanswered questions about the attacks, which should lead to a
clear sense of who and what agencies were responsible for the failures.
No one in the government has been reprimanded, let alone fired, as a
result of the enormous failures that allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur.
Those having responsibility for the failures must be held accountable.
Dennis Kucinich is now the Chair of the new Subcommittee on Domestic
Policy under the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Prior to the 2006 elections in a piece for Truthdig, Dennis Kucinich
stated the following:
"I will not prejudice with any criticism or charges any oversight
hearings of any committee I may chair in the next Congress. However, I
do know that the American people still have unanswered questions about
9/11, WMDs, the abandonment of international law and the Geneva
Conventions, the war in Iraq, the White House Iraq Group, the Rendon
propaganda machine, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the Pat
Tillman case, Iraq war casualties, the missing $10.8 billion in Iraq
reconstruction funds, the human and economic toll of the war,
rendition, wiretapping, domestic spying, and plans for an attack on
Now is the time to press Dennis Kucinich to take the lead in his new
subcommittee to start the re-investigation process. You can call his
office at (202) 225-5871, fax him at (202) 225-5745, or write him at
2445 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.
Authors Website: none
Authors Bio: A. C. Mills is a groundwater hydrologist employed in an
engineering consulting company. He and his wife have six children and
18 grandchildren. He was active in the civil rights movement in the
1950's and 1960's, and spent 9 years in India as a missionary
specializing in water supply. Funded by the Egyptian government and
USAID, in the early 1980's he investigated and reported on the water
resources of the Sinai peninsula. He formed the New Jersey Peace
Mission in the 1980s which arranged for groups to lobby in D.C. to stop
funding the Contras in Nicaragua.