9/11 Commission Report: Going to change anything?

I figured that this might be better off in the Pit, but since I predict about a half-dozen threads by the time I finish typing this, perhaps a more balanced view would be necessary.

Disclaimer: I only read the Executive Summary, but damned if I could find a summary in there. Most of the freakin’ thing read like a college freshman’s first term paper, trying to show how deeply they understand and care for everyone else. Excuse me while I skim to find something of substance.

Even from the beginning where the Commission describes its makeup, they state that “we’re not actually going to make anyone look bad. We’re fair and balanced in a way that Fox News could never be. In fact, we’re going to make sure that no one can balme us for making people look bad by suggesting ways that we can all be better, without actually changing much. Look, we’re all in this together and with a few more government-appointed departments with massive budgets and support systems that rival the Homeland Security monstrosity, we can probably make sure that everyone feels like a winner.”

Because adding another layer of bureaucracy will solve all of our problems.

Oh man, I really hoped that this report would have something of substance. Instead it turned out to be “we screwed up, you screwed up, but we can all learn from our mistakes and hopefully one day, we’ll look back and laugh at how silly we once were.”

So, my question is: will anything change? Will we be safer with the CIA ccing the FBI on all their emails? Will they get to know each other better at the CIA/FBI family picnics and lose their inter-agency rivalries? How long will the nonobjective post of “head disseminator of really important stuff” remain unbiased?

Anyone else?

I really think that adding the new cabinet member will hurt more than help.

The reason is, simply, it’s an appointed position with congressional confirmation. Fact of the matter is, we’ve seen white a White House of yes men will accompish.

I’m betting that the only thing this position will provide is a Pre-Designated-Sword-Faller-Onner the next time a huge fuckup like 9/11 or Iraq comes along.

-Joe, Cynic

You know, I hadn’t thought about that. In the interim, though, I suppose having a job that doesn’t actually require you to do anything (well, close down airports when you travel, have interns, security forces, billions of dollars of budget to boss around and make the directors of both the CIA and FBI (what about the NSA? Why were they left out of this?) fear you) might be a good four-year stint.

Though I am not happy that the 9/11 comission became a “no one is guilty but the system”… it has pointed out the obvious: That the CIA is a cold war machine and that its subject (always was) to trying to please the White House.

Hopefully it will be de-politicized up to a point. In the future CIA agents will be much more prone to resist political pressure from government officials who only want rubber stamping of their chosen threat.

As for a Cabinet official... Merijeek hit it head on... its a sacrificial scapegoat position.

Another thing the commission glossed over was the culpability of Congress in weakening U.S. intelligence constantly over the years. Starting with the Church committee on, the CIA was increasingly limited in what it could do. The reason there were so many intelligence failures was because the U.S. increasingly relied on signal intelligence (satellites, phone intercepts, etc) and less on actual human intelligence (spies). One of the big reasons was because Congress passed a restriction that said the CIA could not recruit people who had violated human rights themselves. Pretty tough to infiltrate Saddam’s inner circle or the higher levels of al-Qaida under restrictions like that. ALL of those people had dirty hands, and were therefore off-limits to the CIA. Stupid, stupid rule.

But the commission was useful in exposing the BUSH LIED myths. For instance, there WERE significant contacts between Saddam and al-Qaida - they are detailed in the report. There WERE attempts by Iraq to buy Uranium from Niger. And Bush’s two main critics, Joe Wilson and Richard Clarke, did not come off looking very good in the final report.

I’m still working on the SSCI report, so I haven’t gotten into the 911 report.
Would you please be so kind as to expound on what you mean by ‘significant’ as used in the above instance?
And could you please point me to the part(s) of the 911 report that support this?

The SSCI report’s a little more vaguely worded than this. It merely discusses various reports. At least one report speaks of a contract to sell more uranium to Iraq than is actually produced in Niger.
Could you please quote the relevant sections of the 911 report you’re discussing here?

Your fellow researcher,


Okay, here are the references in the 9-11 commission report that involve Iraq:

From the PDF Version of the report (all pages mentioned are PDF pages - not the labelled pages in the report)

Page 75 - First mention of a terrorist group in Iraq being recruited by Bin Ladin:

Page 78 - first official contact with Iraq:

This is an interesting paragraph. It’s always been cited by the opponents of the war that Bin Ladin would have “nothing to do” with Saddam because he was secular, and that Bin Ladin’s involvement with Ansar al-Islam was proof that he couldn’t cooperate with Saddam because Ansar al-Islam was an enemy of Saddam. Well, here’s the 9/11 commission saying that Bin Ladin WANTED a relationship with Saddam, and was willing to stop helping ansar attack the regime in order to get it. And that later on, ansar al-Islam became a common tool of both Saddam and Bin Ladin when it shifted focus to the Kurds. This is especially important because it explains why al-Zawahiri was allowed treatment in a Baghdad hospital - by the time he needed treatment, ansar al-Islam had morphed into a tool of the regime instead of an opponent. They began fighting a common enemy.

Page 83 - More contacts

Numerous contacts here. At first, Bin Ladin approached the Iraqis, but they weren’t interested. Then the Iraqis approached Bin Ladin. al-Qaida members travelled to Iraq to have meetings. Later, Iraqis travelled to Afghanistan to meet Bin Ladin. Note that the Commission says they don’t have “evidence of an operational collaborative relationship”. In other words, a joint Iraqi-al-Qaida military operation such as the 9/11 attacks. But no one knows what went on at all these meetings, and clearly the Iraqis and al-Qaida were drawing closer and were on friendly terms - enough so that Bin Ladin was actually offered safe haven in Iraq. There is evidence elsewhere that Iraqis were providing instruction in poison gas, and we really have no idea whether there was financial or military assistance, because we had no way to detect those things. What we do know is that there were extensive contacts between the two, in both directions - al-Qaida approaching Iraq, and Iraq approaching al-Qaida.

Note again the al-Zawahiri connection. He’s the man who had a safe house in Iraq, was treated in an Iraqi hospital, and yet is described as a deputy of Bin Ladin. He is the same al-Zawahiri who is now leading the terrorist attacks in Iraq.

Page 145 - Original Indictment of Bin Laden in 1998:

Page 151 - Richard Clarke worries that Bin Ladin will run to Baghdad:

Here we have Richard Clarke, the guy who went on and on in the commission hearings about the lack of contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida, ordering that attacks be made without observational flights because he was so worried that Bin Ladin would run to Iraq if any overflights were spotted. His worry was based on solid intel they had that Bin Ladin had been offered asylum by Saddam Hussein.

Page 485 - references

So… No connection to 9/11 that we know of, but plenty of evidence of contacts in both directions. This is pretty much what the Bush administration said. They never said there was evidence of a 9/11 connection, but plenty of evidence of contacts between the two.

Careful, Sam, some people don’t like it when you unspin their view…

Anyway, HOPEFULLY the 9/11 commission report changes one thing: Make the American people pay more attention to what their politicians - plural, meaning less focus on the President and more focus on their Senators - are doing. Most people in this country have a voting criteria that can probably be described in thirty words, and their political attention span never exceeds the ten-second sound bites that they’re fed.

Change happens from the bottom up. Electing a “better” guy into the Pearly Palace won’t make the American people any less apathetic or self-absorbed.

The other thing the 9/11 commission did is spell out the nature of the threat, and it also deals a blow to the, “We need to find out why they hate us” crowd:

It’s not just ‘terrorism’. It’s Islamist terrorism. It’s not just al-Qaida, it’s the entire extremist Islamist axis that is growing in strength. This puts lie to the claims of many that the war on terror is just a ‘police action’, and that once Bin Ladin is caught we can go back to nappin’.

It also offers support to Bush’s strategy of ‘draining the swamp’ by reforming the middle east. Just going after individual terrorists with police action is like solving your wasp problem by getting a better fly swatter. A more sane approach is to remove the wasp nest. As the Commission said, there can be no rest until an entire strain of radical Islam is destroyed or ‘utterly isolated’.

I’m just starting to read your post, so I can’t comment too much yet; however, Zawahiri does not equal Zarqawi.

Incidentally, don’t you think it odd that Zarqawi had a leg amputated, was captured by US forces in 2003, has two legs and is currently loose in Iraq?

What am I on? Of course you’re right. I swapped the two in my mind somehow. Zawahiri, if I recall correctly, is an Egyptian medical doctor who was said to be Bin Ladin’s right-hand man and strategic advisor. Older guy with glasses.

Interestingly, Zarqawi isn’t mentioned in the 9/11 report, although he was specifically mentioned by Powell early on in the run-up to war as one of the potential contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida.

As for why he seems to have two legs - my understanding is that the evidence that he was in hospital is pretty strong, but not much was known about why he was there. There was speculation that he had a leg amputated. According to this story, he had nasal surgery.

In fact, this article would be one of the most damning connections of all:

Here we have a man trained by Bin Ladin, collecting weapons from Iraqi Intelligence and setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad in 2002, a year before the war. Curious that this wouldn’t be mentioned (or debunked) in the 9/11 commission report.

Sam, do you even read the stuff you’re citing as evidence? Let’s highlight a few key sentences, shall we?

  1. “Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request.

  2. “The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.”

  3. “This passage led Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was “probably a direct result of the Iraq–Al Qida agreement.” Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the “exact formula used by Iraq.” This language about al Qaeda’s “understanding” with Iraq had been dropped, however, when a superseding indictment was filed in November 1998.”

You didn’t try to spin that last quote, so I’ll help you out here: In bureaucratspeak, this means, “Our original belief that al Qaeda had an ‘understanding’ with Iraq turned out to be bogus, so we tossed it out when we updated the indictment.”

Gee, that’s not what your earlier quote says: “He wrote Deputy National Security Advisor Donald Kerrick that one reliable source reported Bin Ladin’s having met with Iraqi officials, who ‘may have offered him asylum.’”

Amazing how re-inserting one word conveniently collapses your argument, doesn’t it?

And that, of course, is enough justification for invading Iraq in your book. :rolleyes: Apparently the standards for culpability are a lot lower in the Samiverse than they are here on planet Earth.

Then again, in the Samiverse, if any Iraqi official meets with anyone affiliated with Al Qaeda, and neither man tries to knife the other in the back, that appears to be sufficient “proof” of cooperation between the two groups. By that logic, since George W. Bush telephoned John Kerry and congratulated him for becoming the Democratic Party’s candidate, the two men must be collaborating to fix the election for their mutual benefit. :rolleyes:

Here’s a hint, Sam: when we’re talking about whether a war with Iraq was justified for Saddam’s involvement with terrorism, only one criteria matters: Was he involved with any of the terrorist attacks?

And by your own admission, there’s “No connection to 9/11 that we know of.” Case closed.

Bush is still a weenie, and you’re still an apologist.

Heck, you don’t even have to go into all that reasoning and citing. If the report was even half as full of Bushwah as friend Sam claims, you could turn your TV to Fox News, and Bull O’Relly would reach out of the screen, seize you by the lapels and start screaming into your face “Vindication! Vindication! I report, you agree!”

And yet, there they are, quietly advising me that Kerry is a (gasp!) liberal…

Did they not get the memo, Sam? Shouldn’t you get right on that?

You’re the one spinning here. First, I quoted all the passages you mentioned, and read them just fine. You’re the one who needs to read the context. In the first segment, Bin Ladin approached Iraq, and was rebuffed. Your claim is that this means the case is closed on that one. But later, the tables turn around, and Iraq approaches bin Ladin. Now we have evidence of a reconsideration, meaning that BOTH sides are now open to exchange. By separating them the way you did, you make the implication that the two sides would have nothing to do with each other, and that’s clearly not what the report says.

My take on all of this is that BOTH sides were perfectly willing to work together, but various practical and operational concerns caused specific overtures to fail. For instance, when Iraq offered Bin Ladin asylum, he turned it down. Not because he was unwilling to work with them, but because he thought Afghanistan made a better base of operations.

As for why the language in the indictment was changed in later indictments, neither you nor I know why. It could simply be because the Justice Department decided that it couldn’t prove that part of it. Or because they felt it wouldn’t help in securing a conviction. Or maybe because later intel cast doubt on it. But we don’t know. I just offered it as yet another piece of evidence.

And I said NOTHING about whether this justified an attack, so you’re attacking a straw man. What I said was that the 9/11 commissions shows that the Bush Administration was TELLING THE TRUTH when they said they had evidence of numerous contacts between Iraq and Bin Ladin. So stop moving the goal posts.

The case is only closed if you assume that the only possible reason for caring about these connections was to find out if they were directly involved in 9/11. To me, that’s not the issue at all. In the wider strategic context of the war, the proper question is, “is Iraq an enemy or an Ally? Is it possible that it will work with al-Qaida? Is there evidence that they are willing to do so? Can we win the war without getting rid of Saddam? What are the ramifications if we leave Saddam in place? Can we hope to reform the middle east with him in power? What are the chances that he will pass WMD to al-Qaida?” Etc. of course, to the “BUSH LIED! PEOPLE DIED!” crowd, nuance is not exactly their strong suit. No sign of a connection to 9/11? Bush is EVIL! The war was WRONG!

The world is far more complex than that.

And besides, the wording “collaborative operational relationship” is pretty precise, wouldn’t you say? The fact is, Bin Ladin and his deputies appear to have met with Iraqi intelligence services on several occasions, and no one knows what went on in those meetings. To assume that that means nothing was agreed to is silly, which is why the commission worded their conclusion the way they did. The assumption is that the U.S. could detect an collaborative OPERATIONAL relationship, because there would be physical evidence. But there could have been collaborative financial arrangements, or a collaborative strategic arrangement (“We’ll keep the Americans guessing as to X, which should leave you free to do Y”), or a mutual defense agreement in case of attack, or any number of other agreements that would not leave physical evidence until they were enacted. There could even have been an operational plan that hadn’t been enacted yet. Perhaps Hussein was waiting for the results of the 9/11 attacks before joining in on stage 2. We simply have no way of knowing. But to assume that means that we were safe from that relationship is reckless. We know they were willing to work together. We know they met on numerous occasions. We have other evidence of cooperation, such as bomb training and the establishment of safe houses in Baghdad by an al-Qaida operative (Zarqawi, who also apparently received weapons from Iraqi intelligence). There is other circumstantial evidence as well, such as the role of Ramzi Yousef, an Iraqi using forged documentation of a Kuwaiti who vanished in the 1991 war, in the first WTC attack.

None of this is conclusive, but this isn’t a court of law. It’s a war.

And you’re still using ad-hominem attacks in a forum where they don’t belong.

And you’ll cheerlead and hold our coat for us.

elucidator said:

You completely lost me. Perhaps my membership in the vast right-wing conspiracy has expired, because it’s all clicks and buzzes here. You mean that if the report did vindicate Bush, we should be seeing it in the right-wing media? Here, let me check…

National Review:

What the 9/11 Commission says about Iraq and al-Qaida

How do the anti-Bush Partisans Fare?

What to Look For in the Report

The Weekly Standard:

From the August 2, 2004 issue: Findings on Iraq and al Qaeda in the final report of the 9/11 Commission.

Commission Report Confirms Iraq, al-Qaida Ties

Is that what you are looking for? (I haven’t read any of these, BTW).

As for the bit about quietly advising you that Kerry is a liberal… I have no idea what that meant.

David Simmons said:

Hey, I strongly advocated that Canada get involved, and I still do. It’s not my fault that they didn’t. And the consequences of war or lack thereof will be felt by my country as much as yours.

And once again, can we please stay off the personal attacks? They are so freaking tedious. If you can’t argue the facts I posted, it might be better to say nothing at all.

Sam, m’boy, its a good thing to be flexible. But you could hurt yourself with some of those contortions. Just a few of the more flavorsome…

It does? It didn’t in the previous instance, but now it does? Why should we assume that Iraq changed its position but AlQ didn’t, and remained open?

Extraordinary prescience, Sam! Borders on the psychic. BOTH sides are willing to work together, but niggling details get in the way of thier love-feast. We don’t know, but Sam does! Its because ObL “thought Afghanistan made a better base…” He did? When did he say that?

If they had simply said that there were “contacts”, then they wouldn’t have said much of anything at all. Everybody is in “contact” with everybody else in the ME, as best we can tell. What the Bushiviks said was that the “contacts” were a clear and present danger, a dire threat that needed to be confronted this very instant!

How very reassuring. We don’t really need such a daunting standard of proof, a handful of maybe, a couple of hunches, and a little good ol’ Canadian intuition, and its steel cage death match time!

And one other niggling point: when they started down this road, they swore up and down that they were not, repeat, not going to be getting into the intelligence aspects of this whole magilla, and most especially not going to get into the use of the intelligence by the White House.

Did they change thier mind, Sam? Were the Democrats on the panel so utterly overwhelmed by the incontrovertible evidence that they shrugged and consented to a report that, according to you, vindicates the White House on every point?

Speaking of tedius.

There is evidence of a relationship between the United States and Iraq during this same time frame.