Something strange has been occurring on the fourth floor
under the dome of the U.S. Capitol. The security is so strict that even
the representatives and senators from the joint-intelligence committee
investigating the September 11 attacks must check their cell phones and
pagers at the door of the sound-proof room -- a meeting place regularly
swept for listening devices.
These and other indications reveal that no chances are being taken which
might result in having words spoken in confidence leak out of that room.
And there are no reports regarding whether legislators are more worried
about U.S. citizens getting wind of the contents of their discussions than
Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee,
said it was the first time in the history of the Congress that two standing
committees have held joint hearings. Moreover, some might question such
extreme measures and whether crucial truth is being held in the hands of
too few -- given unspoken congressional and administration links to terrorism.
Wide reports last week revealed that an enraged White House had called
joint-committee chairmen Graham and Represenative Porter Goss (R-FL) about
classified leaks from the members, which resulted in their requesting the
FBI to ask members and staff to undergo polygraph tests which clearly intrude
upon the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.
This, as the surreptitious hearings have been postponed till late September.
Genesis of a Cover Up
One reason for the furtive activity may have a lot to do with why both
the White House and CNN altered the transcript of a 4 pm, May 16, 2002
press conference by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice in the
James Brady Briefing Room.
The machinations had their genesis later in the day that Thursday, after
the New York Post hit the streets with its huge "Bush Knew" banner,
adding "Prez Was Warned of Possible Hijacking Before Terror Attacks"
as a subheading. Shortly thereafter, other papers began to reveal the contents
of a Presidential FBI briefing from August 6 -- just 36 days prior to the
September 11 attacks.
The top-secret briefing said that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were going
to "bring the fight to America," according to the Toronto Star,
for past attacks upon its training camps in Afghanistan. So the wheels
of presidential damage control started turning, even as the New York Times
was putting finishing touches on an explosive May 19 story for the next
day, reporting that President Bush had also been briefed before September
"A 1999 report for the National Intelligence Council,
which oversees government intelligence analysis, saying 'Suicide bomber
(s) belonging to Al Qaeda's martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft
packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the
[CIA] or the White House.' "
Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-SD), said he was "gravely
concernedabout the information provided us just yesterday that the president
received a warning in August about the threat of hijackers...," adding
"Why did it take eight months for us to receive this information,"
-- but failing at the same time to use his senatorial power to subpoena
Then House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) stepped up to the plate
and called for a congressional investigation into "what the president
and what the White House knew about the events leading up to 9/11."
But Gephardt has also been convinced not to make waves -- grieving victim
families who are depending on him to fight for truth notwithstanding.
Sleeping With the Enemy?
While researching various sections of a related story surrounding growing
evidence that the FBI and other government entities are more closely linked
to pre-9/11 insider trading than previously was thought, it was found that
the Secretary of State and two other State Department officials, the Central
Intelligence Administration (CIA) Director, three senators, and a congressman
actually met with Pakistan's Inter-Services Security Agency (ISI) chief,
who had wired $100,000 to fund the operations of terrorist hijacker leader
Mohammed Atta just prior to the attacks.
But worse, actual evidence is available that the White
House and CNN doctored the transcript of National Security Advisor Condoleezza
Rice's damage control press conference, held at 4 pm that afternoon on
May 18, 2001.
In an updated, scholarly, and thorough report ( "Political Deception:
The Missing Link Behind 9-11," Centre for Research on Globalisation
(CRG), 6-20-2002 ), by Michel Chossudovsky, University of Ottawa Professor
of Economics, these and a number of other critical revelations are brought
to the fore while other media have ignored them -- not connecting the dots.
Noticing that a couple words were deleted from the CNN transcript of Dr.
Rice's May 16 remarks -- when compared to the transcript from the Federal
News Service which had the words "ISI Chief" included in its
transcript, we placed a call to the public information office at CNN in
Atlanta yesterday. The story was too compelling; it had to find more daylight.
After talking with a woman named Devon, we were told, "After checking
the transcript for Dr. Rice's May 16 press conference, you are correct
that the words 'ISI Chief ' are missing from our transcript." Devon
emailed us a CNN office printout copy, and the word "inaudible"
was indeed found in parentheses. Then we printed out the actual White House
website transcript of the event; and at that same place in the transcript,
we found that "ISI Chief" was also missing:
Q: Dr. Rice? Dr. Rice?
Ms. RICE: Yes?
Q: Are you aware of the reports at the time that -----
was in Washington on September 11th; and on September 10th, $100,000 was
wired from Pakistan to these groups in this area? And why was he here?
Was he meeting with you or anybody in the administration?
Ms. RICE: I have not seen that report, and he was certainly
not meeting with me.
The Washington Post (5-16-2002) reported that "Officials familiar
with the White House's strategy [during damage control], said senior aides
were anxious to dispel the notion of a cover up and said they wanted to
avoid appearing defensive, either in front of cameras or behind the scenes."
Terrorist Hijacker's Financial Benefactor
According to the Times of India (10-9-2001), Mohammed Atta's financial
bagman, Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad had been fired as head of Pakistan's
ISI, as "U.S. authorities [FBI] sought his removal after confirming
that $100,000 had been wired to WTC hijacker Mohammed Atta from Pakistan
through Ahmad Sheikh at the instance (sic) of General Mahmoud."
Times of India then reported that "Senior [U.S.] government sources
have confirmed that India contributed significantly to establishing the
link between the money transfer and the role played by the dismissed ISI
chief." But ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross had beaten them
on the story, reporting to Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts on September
"As to September 11, federal authorities have told ABC News they've
now tracked more than $100,000 from banks in Pakistan to two banks in Florida
to accounts held by suspected hijack ringleader Mohammed Atta. As well
this morning [Sunday's "This Week" Show], 'Time' magazine is
reporting that some of that money came in the days just before the attack
and can be traced directly to people connected to Osama bin Laden."
But Roberts and Donaldson kept adding fuel to the fire, when about one
month later, on October 28 during "This Week," Ms. Roberts asked
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "You've heard Brian Ross's report,
the confirmation that Mohammed Ata met with an Iraqi intelligence official....Do
you think it was -- the meeting with Mohammed Atta was significant, in
terms of September 11?
Rumsfeld responded cryptically, "We will know that only after the
proper law enforcement people investigate that. Clearly, the meeting is
not nothing. It is something notable."
Atta's Money-man Meets With 9/11 Investigation Chairmen on Morning of
Three days after the attacks on September 14, the New York Times reported
that important members of the Bush Administration met with the terrorist
financier and ISI Chief, General Ahmad: CIA Director George Tenet, Secretary
of State Colin Powell, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Under-Secretary
of State Marc Grossman, and Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) -- Chairman of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
However, the Times also revealed that on September 11
-- while the attacks were in progress -- the two current Co-Chairmen of
the Joint-Intelligence Committee investigating the 9/11 attacks, Senator
Bob Graham (D-FL) and Representative Porter Goss (R-FL), met for breakfast
with the ISI Chief who had ordered $100,000 wired from Pakistan to terrorist
leader Mohammed Atta in the days immediately preceeding the attacks.
All this, while General Ahmad was in the United States meeting with multiple
Bush Administration officials and members of Congress:
"When the news came, the two Florida lawmakers who
lead the House and Senate intelligence committees were having breakfast
with the head of the Pakistani intelligence service. Rep. Porter Goss,
Sen. Bob Graham, and other members of the House Intelligence Committee
were talking about terrorism issues with the Pakistani official when a
member of Goss' staff handed a note to Goss, who handed it to Graham. 'We
were talking about terrorism, specifically terrorism generated from Afghanistan,'
Graham said." [presciently]
In a skilled analysis of the neglected yet important story, Professor
Chossudovsky literally dug deep to verify the participation of Bush Administration
officials in the meetings with the hijacker financier behind the September
News Pakistan (9-10-2001) reported that ISI Chief Lt. General Mahmoud
Ahmad arrived in the U.S. on September 4, adding that
"Mahmoud's week-long presence in Washington has
triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meeting at the
Pentagon and National Security Council....Official sources confirm that
he met with [George] Tenet this week. He also held long parleys with unspecified
officials at the White House and the Pentagon. But the most important meeting
was with Marc Grossman, U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
One can safely guess that the discussions must have centered around Afghanistan....and
Osama bin Laden."
But this news report was written on September 10 -- the day before the
According to the Miami Herald (9-16-2001), "Graham said the Pakistani
intelligence official with whom he met....was forced to stay all week in
Washington because of the shutdown of air traffic. 'He was marooned here,
and I think that gave Secretary of State Powell and others in the administration
a chance to really talk with him.' "
Perhaps Chossudovsky's most telling analysis comes in just one short sentence
from congressional intelligence investigation Co-Chairman Porter Goss:
"None of this is news, but it's all part of the finger-pointing,"
Goss declared yesterday in a rare display of pique. "It's foolishness."
(Washington Post, 9-18-2002)
Then the Ottawa professor added: "This statement comes from the man
who was having breakfast with the alleged 'money-man' behind 9/11 -- on
the morning of September 11."
The Post topped off the story, adding that "[General] Ahmad ran a
spy agency notoriously close to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban."
But Chossudovsky unearthed another telling Goss statement from a White
House bulletin: "Chairman Porter Goss said an existing congressional
inquiry has so far found 'no smoking gun' that would warrant another inquiry."
Moreover, Chossudovsky reminds that CIA Director George Tenet also met
with ISI Chief Ahmad just prior to the 9/11 attacks, and that Tenet had
regularly met with President Bush nearly every morning at 8 am sharp for
about a half hour.
But most curiously, a document known as the President's Daily Briefing,
OPDB, "is prepared at Langley by the CIA's analytical directorate,
and a draft goes home with Tenet each night. Tenet edits it personally
and delivers it orally during his early morning meeting with Bush."
(Washington Post, 5-17-2002) But there are no reports as to why the President
prefers not to keep written records of important CIA briefings.
The Ottawa professor added that "this practice of 'oral intelligence
briefings' is unprecedented. Bush's predecessors at the White House, received
a written briefing:"
"With Bush, who liked oral briefings and the CIA
director in attendance, a strong relationship had developed. Tenet could
be direct, even irreverent and earthy." (Washington Post, 1-29-2002)
Investigating the Investigators?
A critical component of the Joint-Intelligence Committee's investigation
is the first part of what Co-Chairman Bob Graham calls "a three-act
play." The first act, according to CNN.com "will focus on establishing
a factual timeline as it relates to what was known before September 11."
Questions remain whether Graham's timeline document will ultimately become
required reading for every member of Congress, along with the early July
FBI briefing and the August 6 presidential briefing -- given the above
evidence, multiple indications of a cover up, links to Congress and the
White House, and additional unanswered questions of 9/11.
Another key Intelligence Committee member, Richard Shelby (R-AL), was
widely quoted in reference to Co-Chairman Goss. Chiding his fellow Republican,
"You know, [House committee chairman Goss] is a former CIA employee,
and I know he's close to a lot of people over there," Shelby told
Roll Call (October, 2001). "I don't think we should be too close to
anybody we have oversight of because you can't do your job. You become
subverted by the process."
As to other investigative options, James Ridgeway added that "[An
Independent Commission] could cause a dreadful scene, with senior lawmakers
and their staffs in the spotlight along with the intelligence chiefs. After
all, what did the members of Congress know before September 11? Might they
have forewarned us?" (Orange County Weekly, June 7-13, 2002)
Courageous members of Congress may also have interest in Graham's "notebooks
filled with jotted records of every meeting and phone call." (Associated
Press, 5-30-2002) And Knight Ridder (6-4-2002) added that the relatively
tight time frame [Goss wants the 9/11 investigation report finished by
January, 2003] may encourage some [Administration agencies] to "run
out the clock" and hold back potentially embarrassing information.
The evidence of White House and media cover up of that important visit
just prior to the attacks by the individual supplying the money to finance
the terrorists is only made more crucial when one considers that so many
high government officials met with this person -- some while the attacks
were in progress. However, Americans are being denied an explanation and
a carefully thorough public investigation of this evidence.
Further completing the circle, a Times of India report (3-7-2001) reveals
that "The CIA worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the 'monster'
that is today Afghanistan's ruling Taliban," a leading U.S. expert
on South Asia had said months prior to the attacks.
Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars
added, "The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups
from all over the world to come to Afghanistan." But more importantly,
Harrison reveals that "the old associations between the intelligence
agencies continue....The CIA still has close links with the ISI."
Americans may now wonder what terrorist money man and ISI Chief Ahmad
was discussing with George Tenet, Colin Powell, and members of Congress
during those long meetings prior to the worst attacks on American soil
in our history.
And after all this, some U.S. citizens may even question whether there
is anyone left to depose Bush Administration officials and Members of Congress
under oath who would never subpoena themselves to offer explanations for
demonstrated conflicts of interest -- or worse.
Copyright (c) 2002 by Thomas Flocco. Used with permission.
Tom Flocco is an independent American investigative journalist
who has written for Scoop.co.nz, AmericanFreePress.net. WorldNetDaily.com,
FromTheWilderness.com, NewsMax.com, NarcoNews.com, and JudicialWatch.org.
Copyright (c) Scoop Media