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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Politics: National Security, Classification is Not a Game

Last week we heard that, contrary to Sec. Rice’s testimony to the 9/11 Commission, there may have been numerous warnings prior to 9/11 of a Bin Laden or Al Qaeda attack involving our nation’s airlines. Joe Janda, a friend of mine, wrote to me in an e-mail:

Remember when our prez and company repeatedly said there was no warning of attacks? People have speculated that there was some warning, but not a clear picture. Portions of the 9/11 commission's report were classified before the election, and have just been released, quietly.

"Among other things, the report says that leaders of the F.A.A. received 52 intelligence reports from their security branch that mentioned Mr. Bin Laden or Al Qaeda from April to Sept. 10, 2001. That represented half of all the intelligence summaries in that time." (from today's Salon)

Michael Moore, that memo from August, rampant accusations and conspiracy theories, somehow none have made me more upset than this. Sure, you can say that the F.A.A. security branch may not be listened to or respected by the CIA etc, but 52 reports? Half of all reports in the 5 months leading up? Ten reports a month? There had to be something to catch in there, for any 'intelligence' organization. And there had to be people at the top to ignore it.
Well, it seems Representatives Henry Waxman and Carolyn Maloney had similar misgivings. Below are excerts from, “Request for Hearings by House Members” to the House Committee on Government Reforms.

Thursday 10 February 2005

The Honorable Tom Davis
Committee on Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We are writing to request that our Committee hold hearings to investigate two extremely serious questions raised by an article that appeared in this morning's New York Times. The first question is whether the Administration misused the classification process to withhold, for political reasons, official 9/11 Commission staff findings detailing how federal aviation officials received multiple intelligence reports warning of airline hijackings and suicide attacks before September 11. The second question relates to the veracity of statements, briefings, and testimony by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice regarding this issue…

…One possibility raised by these facts is that Ms. Rice was unaware of the FAA warnings when she appeared before the press and testified before the 9/11 Commission. This would raise serious questions about her preparation and competency. Another possibility is that Ms. Rice knew about the FAA warnings but provided misleading information to the public and the Commission. Neither of these possibilities would reflect well on Ms. Rice.

Perhaps there are other more innocent explanations for these seeming inconsistencies.

Given the gravity of these questions and significance of the new disclosures, the Committee should investigate what Ms. Rice knew, when she knew it, and why she testified as she did. The public has the right to expect that senior Administration officials will be candid on matters of national security, especially when they involve the tragic events of September 11. An investigation is needed to determine whether this standard was met in this instance.

Document Request

Finally, we request that the Committee obtain from the Administration the following
documents identified in the New York Times article this morning:

  1. A full, unredacted copy of the classified version of the 9/11 Commission report on FAA intelligence warnings delivered to the National Archives;
  2. Full and unredacted copies of the 52 intelligence reports
    received by the FAA;
  3. Full and unredacted copies of the CD-ROM presentation distributed to airlines and airports in 2001; and
  4. Full and unredacted copies of slides, reports, or other documents used in classified briefings for security officials at 19 airports in mid-2001.


Henry A. Waxman
Minority Member

Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress

The full text of the request as well as supporting documents can be viewed at, Truthout – Issues, Waxman Wants Rice-9/11 Hearings -- 02.17.05.

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