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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 the terrorists.
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 Representative 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 11 regarding:
“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 concerned about 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 the documents.
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 entitled “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 30, 2001:
“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 Attacks
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 11 attacks.
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 attacks.
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.” (5-17-2002)
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.
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. He is also a frequent CRG contributor. To Contact Tom Flocco:: [email protected] . Copyright © Thomas Flocco. 2002. For fair use only
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